Human Resource Management

Like virtually all the other personnel-management-related activities at, the company currently has no organized approach to interviewing job candidates. Three people, Jennifer, Pierre, and Greg (from the board of directors), interview each candidate, and the three then get together to discuss them. Unfortunately, they usually reach strikingly different conclusions. For example, Greg thought a particular candidate was “stellar” and would be able to not only sell, but also eventually assume various administrative responsibilities to take the load off Jennifer and Pierre. Pierre thought this particular candidate was hopeless: “I’ve been selling for eight years and have hired many salespeople, and there’s no way this person’s going to be a closer” is the way he put it. Jennifer, noting that a friend of her mother had recommended this particular candidate, was willing to take a wait-and-see attitude: “Let’s hire her and see how she does” is the way she put it. Pierre replied that this was no way to hire a salesperson, and, in any case, hiring another administrator was pretty far down their priority list, so “I wish Greg would stick to the problem at hand, namely hiring a 100 percent salesperson.”
Jennifer was sure that inadequate formal interviewing policies, practices, and procedures accounted for at least some of the problems they were having in hiring and keeping good salespeople. They did hire one salesperson whom they thought was going to be terrific, based on her references and on what they understood her previous sales experience had been. She stayed for a month and a half, sold hardly anything, cost the company almost $10 000 of its precious cash, and then left for another job.
The problem wasn’t just with the salespeople. For one thing, they hired a programmer largely based on his assertion that he was expert in various Web-related programming including HTML, Java script, and Flash. They followed up with one of his references, who was neutral regarding the candidate’s programming abilities. But, being desperate, Jennifer and Pierre hired him anyway-only to have him leave three weeks later, more or less by mutual consent.
“This is a total disaster,” said Jennifer, and Pierre could only agree. It was obvious that in some respects their interviews were worse than not interviewing at all: For example, if they didn’t have interviews, perhaps they’d have used more caution in following up with the candidates’ references. In any case, they now want you, their management consultants, to tell them what to do. Here’s what they want you to do for them.
Tell us what we’re doing wrong.

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