While a distributor can optimize a job posting, streamline an application process and make a timely offer after a successful interview, there can still be oversights in the hiring process. A common innate bias managers have is the tendency to prefer candidates that are most similar to them. Examples might include where they’re from, age range, and similar interests. St. John refers to this as “The Halo Effect”, adding that although it’s human nature, it can lead to long-term detrimental effects on businesses.

Having a staff that is too like-minded limits the scope for innovative changes or methods to accomplishing tasks, both on a larger and day-to-day scale. St. John knows this firsthand, reflecting on how she fell into that trap when starting her company 12 years ago.

“We had so much fun and were so enthusiastic, but we barely survived our second year, because we all approached things in a similar way. I didn't have anyone who was really cautious. I didn't have anyone who was risk averse. I didn't have anyone who was pushing back. I didn't have anyone who was completing any of the things that I was creating,” she says. “I started everything and never finished anything. From that point on, I became very intentional about hiring people, not only with skill sets, but behaviors that were opposite mine.”

To avoid the Halo Effect, St. John recommends the “Rule of Thirds”, which consists of:

  • One-third based on the experience of the candidate and the resume. Do they have the qualifications needed for the job?
  • One-third based on the chemistry of the interview. Could you see yourself working with them productively long-term? This is the ‘gut-check’.
  • One-third evaluates the behavioral style; do they have the correct make-up to be successful as it relates to the pressures of the job and culture of your company?

The third behavioral style can be the toughest to gauge, but it can be explored by using templates and example questions that are easily accessible online or through HR resources.

“A lot of people fail behavioral tests because of their personality and attitude — not because of their ability. Having a defined, required trait going into the interview is key, such as ‘I need somebody who's detail oriented,’” St. John explains. “In that case, an interviewer can meet someone very extroverted, but flaky. They loved them, and they were very sweet, but that's not what the job requires. Being very deliberate about that process eliminates bias.”

Echoing the sentiments of St. John, Gervino adds that innate biases can be limited by strictly following a line of questioning for each candidate being interviewed. Emphasizing questions that are focused on the function of the position — such as ‘How would you solve this problem?’, or ‘How would you complete this task?’ — can help interviewers avoid asking questions that may be interesting for a casual conversation, but not for hiring the right person.

“I suggest writing your questions down and asking yourself, ‘Do these questions really help lead me to the answers that I need?’ Meaning, can this person execute this position? Do they have the experience or enough skill to do that? That's really all it should be,” Gervino notes.

The challenges of hiring aren’t likely to go away anytime soon. But with an airtight methodology for creating job descriptions (and promoting them), refining application processes, and conducting interviews, distributors can weather the storm with less turbulence than their competitors.

A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, James DeGraff joined Trade Press Media Group in 2019 as an associate editor. He creates and oversees content for Sanitary Maintenance, Facility Cleaning Decisions and Contracting Profits magazines, as well as CleanLink.com

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