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Gauging Employee Retention During the Interviewing Process

In a relatively brief period of time, employers are expected to make critical hiring decisions on all levels. Improving your interviewing skills can help to improve employee retention.

Try to put the candidate at ease and pay attention to their body language, most especially eye contact. When people are relaxed, they are easier to engage in conversation and casual conversation can be revealing. Having someone explain their past positions and experiences, likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses, as part of a conversation instead of routine questions and answers, will prove to be productive and insightful.

Why did the candidate leave former places of employment and is there a pattern? Were there consistencies regarding difficulties with supervisors or peers, adapting to change, being passed over for promotion, etc.?

We always look for patterns which can be positive or negative, but patterns are telling and shouldn’t be ignored. Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, then probe further. Ask thoughtful questions and discuss “what if” situations to judge critical thinking abilities. When a candidate lets their guard down, you can get a glimpse of their personality. Do they view the world in a half empty or half full way, are they reflective or impulsive, diplomatic or argumentative, and do they seem to possess the very needed customer service focus we all seek at every level. Discuss goals, your and theirs, to see if they are aligned. Some candidates are looking to embrace a particular position while others are on a fast track. Not all companies can provide a fast track to higher and more progressive positions or in the time frame desired. If a candidate yearns for higher and more progressive positions in relatively short order and you are either in need of someone to embrace a position for a longer period of time or don’t have a means to fast track to higher level positions, then this candidate is not well suited for your company no matter how competent. If you can’t provide the internal mobility a person desires, then that person will be an employee for the short term. Be realistic and practical. Understand your needs and goals and those of the prospective candidate to determine if they are aligned and if they can be met.

You have to give a little to get a little. This is so true. In order for that wall to come down during the interviewing process, the interviewer also needs to have a way of providing a sense of comfort and should have an inviting enough personality to set the stage, especially if there is going to be multiple interviews with layers of personnel. If someone seems to especially connect with the prospective employee then that person should begin the process at each turn to help transition to other interviewers so not to lose the comfort and relationship building that was started with the candidate. Personality and chemistry needs to weigh in as much as experience since we all mostly function as part of a successful team.

In service oriented industries such as property management where the service we provide separates the better and more fully occupied properties from those that are struggling, look beyond the obvious and requisite skills that comprise the usual job descriptions. Is the candidate seemingly someone who will be inclined to go the extra mile to keep tenant satisfaction high? Do they smile? Are they gracious? Is it obvious that they have been fair in describing past experiences? Is their follow-up exemplary as is needed when there are issues? Do they articulate well? Are they focused on tenant satisfaction that is heads and tails above the competition?

Before the conclusion of the interview, ask about supervisory references from past employers. Can they get positive references and are there any prior employers who may not be inclined to provide a good reference? Discuss any possibility of a negative or not so positive reference. How a person chooses to explain an unpleasant situation will help you to understand how they process information, if they are reflective, and if they are forthright. Make notes after the interview and not during the process in order to keep momentum and conversation flowing smoothly. You can always circle back with the candidate if anything is fuzzy before the interview concludes. Human Resource and other hiring professionals should always seek to sharpen their interviewing skills. It is a major decision when someone new is hired because of the commitment each party has made to the other and the overall investment that needs to be made in hiring new personnel. To treat the interviewing process casually is costly and is where employee retention is often overlooked. When employers sharpen their interviewing skills and take the time to get to know the person being considered for hire, they are much more likely to bring the right candidates on-board and retain the employees in whom they have invested.

The interviewing process is an opportunity to bring the best employees who are aligned with your priorities and goals on-board and to retain them because you have taken the time before hiring any professional to determine their long term suitability.