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Finding the diamond in the rough.

Looking at her application, I wondered why this job candidate was waiting to see me. Personnel was usually reliable in screening out weak applicants for technical positions. Not only did this individual have the minimum level of required education-she had been fired from her one and only job.

Normally I would not consider an individual with such flimsy credentials, but since she was waiting outside, I decided to grant a brief interview. I'm glad I did. 0 Uncovering a gem. What the applicant lacked on paper, she more than made up for in person. Instead of avoiding the subject of being fired, she tackled it head on. She admitted that the problem had been caused in part by her inexperience. More important, she had turned a painful episode into a positive influence on her life. I was so impressed by her interpersonal skills that I decided to take a chance-and my hunch was right.

The woman eventually assumed a position of leadership in our laboratory. She was a positive influence on everyone she came into contact with. Had I merely reviewed her resume, she would not have made the first cut, and the loss would have been ours.

Necessary tool. Interviewing skills are among the most important for managers and supervisors to develop. I am often amazed by the effort lab supervisors will put into evaluating a new procedure or analyzer. Yet when it comes to the most important and costly component of the lab-personnel-they often take the evaluation process lightly. Since the average technologist stays for four to five years, each will probably cost more than the most expensive analyzer in your laboratory.

We must make a concerted effort to hire the best person for each position. To accomplish this, follow these simple steps:

Make it a. priority. Although interviewing may be a nuisance to you, it may be one of the most important meetings of the applicant's life. Treat each interview as a major event. Make sure your office is presentable. Restrict interruptions. Allocate enough time.

How you conduct an interview says a lot about your organization. I was once interviewed by a manager who ate his lunch throughout our discussion. His actions clearly communicated that hiring me was not a high priority to him or his organization.

Communicate. The interview is a two-way sell. Applicants try to convince you to hire them; you extoll the virtues of your organization. The personnel shortage often causes the latter process to take precedence.

To establish a good flow of communication, put the applicant at ease as soon as possible. Find a common thread in the application to use as an icebreaker-something you are familiar with, for example, such as where the applicant lives, the schools attended, or previous employers. You can elicit more meaningful information later.

?Lend an ear. A good interviewer spends most of the time listening. Use open-ended questions that require a lengthy response rather than those that can be answered "yes" or "no." Focus on goals for the future that may indicate whether the applicant has a sense of direction and a high degree of motivation.

Take time to decide. No matter how good an applicant appears during the interview, never offer a position on the spot. The next person may impress you even more, or the present one may be stretching the truth. Check references.

In decisions regarding personnel, two heads are usually better than one. A multilevel interview process, in which severa] individuals speak with all candidates, is the best procedure.

Follow up. Give the candidate an idea how long the decision process will take and how he or she measures up. If you are strongly considering a candidate but the process is taking longer than expected, remain in contact. Let the individual know that he or she is still a viable candidate. This simple act will often prevent you from losing your first choice. if you saw strong applicants whom you were unable to hire this time, explain areas in which they need to improve.

Good interviewing skills are necessary for those on either side of the desk. For applicants, the interview provides a chance to sell themselves and acquire the job of their choice. For those of us doing the hiring, the interview offers an opportunity to acquire an excellent staff member. Finding the elusive diamond in the rough who later shines may be the most rewarding part of all. n
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Title Annotation:successful hiring techniques
Author:Maratea, James M.
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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