Try Before You Buy: A More Agile Approach to Hiring

In Laurent’s Hiring and Testingpost, he wondered why we spend so much time in the up-front stages of hiring. Why not use the probation period that seems to be the law in France, and is part of many companies’ stated HR procedures?A bunch of reasons: as managers, we need to give substantive and useful feedback during probation; many professional people are uncomfortable with the notion of being on probation, and you still have to invest the time and money on interviews and reference checks (although you might be able to spend a little less). I’ll address each of these issues briefly.

  1. How many of you are comfortable with giving substantive and useful feedback? I suspect that you haven’t been trained on how to provide feedback, and if you haven’t, it’s dang hard. Esther and I have developed our Five Steps to Effective Feedback, see Collaboration and Teamwork for some of the content.
  2. Probation means testing of a person’s fitness for work, but too often we think of it as something we do after we’ve made a mistake.
  3. It’s hard to take an agile approach to hiring if firing is time-consuming and difficult. If firing is difficult, then you still have to define the job and interview carefully, audition, and check references. If you don’t, you could be stuck with someone who’s not working well for an extremely long time.

Probation is a good idea, and has only been pro formafor many companies. The necessary preconditions are the hiring manager’s ability to give useful feedback and the ability to fire easily.

Labels: audition, feedback

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