[Editor’s Note: Chris Heinz, EnergyCAP’s Vice President for Human Resources, is this week’s blogger. He brings valuable insights into the black box of corporate hiring procedures, and suggests a current methodology for maximizing value in the hiring process. Please read and consider sharing internally in your organization!]

rightpath-handshake.jpgHere at EnergyCAP, Inc., we’re always looking for ways to improve so that our customers receive the best services, products, and experiences possible. One of these innovations is the hiring process. We’ve introduced behavioral interviewing into employee selection, which so far, has yielded nine excellent new hires in the last four months. If you come to Catalyst this spring, you can meet them.

Right People in the Right Seats

Why have we introduced behavioral interviewing? In his bestselling book, Good to Great, Jim Collins explains that one of the factors differentiating good companies from great companies has to do with staffing: “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats,” writes Collins. Through behavioral interviewing, we’re trying to get the right people in the right seats.

As the Vice President of Human Resources, I’m responsible for the hiring process. My main goal is making the right decision with the available data. Traditional hiring methods have included a cover letter/resume, job interview, and perhaps a reference check. But behavioral interviewing increases not only the quantity of data, but also the quality of data we have to make a good decision. In fact, studies have suggested that behavioral interviewing is nine times more effective at selecting a right candidate than the traditional method (The Journal of Applied Psychology).

Behavioral Interviewing Defined

With this said, you may be wondering what is behavioral interviewing anyway? Most simply, behavioral interviewing is interviewing that is connected to behaviors that most indicate success for the position. Rather than hiring to fill a seat, behavioral interviewing leads to hiring the right person to fill the right seat. Here’s how we do it at EnergyCAP, Inc.

Step 1: Job Description

I give the supervisor a list of behavioral traits. The supervisor circles the traits he believes are most indicative of success in the position. For example, when we were hiring a technical support specialist, the supervisor circled, “precise,” “compassionate,” and “cautious,” because he wanted an employee who was careful when giving technical information, but also sympathetic to customers.

Step 2: Job Interview #1

After the job description is posted, we begin receiving cover letters, resumes, and applications. Using the available data, we invite applicants who possess the necessary experience and skills to interview. At this point, it’s difficult to discern behaviors, but that’s what the interview begins to reveal. In the interview, we ask questions relating to the desired behavioral traits—questions such as “How do you keep yourself organized?” and “How do you typically deal with conflict?”

Step 3: Behavioral Assessment

After the interviews, our hiring committee selects candidates to bring back for second interviews. We invite the candidates to take an online behavioral trait assessment to be completed before the next interview. The assessment we prefer is called RightPath 4/6, which takes about an hour to complete. RightPath scores the candidate on a variety of behavioral traits, indicating on which ones they’re intense, dominant, or mid-range. The scores help us see if the candidate’s RightPath traits correlate with the job description (Step 1), which was created with certain traits in view.

Step 4: Candidate Brief

After I receive the RightPath results, I create a brief on each remaining candidate. In the brief, I share thoughts on where there’s a fit with the job description (the gold) and where are concerns (the gaps). From these insights, questions for the second round interview are developed. Just because a candidate doesn’t score highly for a certain trait doesn’t mean they can’t behave that way. After all, behaviors can be learned.

Step 5: Job Interview #2

The goal of the second round interview is for candidates to talk about their gold—the areas of fit—and the gaps—how they may have learned to compensate for lesser or missing traits. Each candidate is asked customized questions based on their assessment results. This is how we discover if they’ve learned certain key behaviors over time, even if they’re not naturally occurring.

Step 6: Reference & Background Checks

As a result of all this data, the hiring committee makes their selection. But there’s one final step—confirming what the committee has learned by performing a reference and background check. We’re seeking to confirm—as best as we can—that the insights we’ve obtained agree with sources from the candidate’s working history. If they check out, then we present a job offer.

Closing Thoughts

Although the hiring process takes longer and requires more effort this way, getting the right people in the right seats is good for everyone. The employee is engaged, the company is successful, and the customers are getting the value they deserve. Behavioral interviewing is another example of the innovations that are making EnergyCAP a better employer and vendor for our valued staff and clients.

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About The Author
Chris is Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., which helps organizations get value from their utility bills through energy management software. He's an Associate Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation, a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, and a Certified Professional Life Coach. He also started www.Munyay.com to help people love their life and love their work.
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