Thursday, September 18, 2008

Real world hiring strategies.

• The core values that Hewlett-Packard identified for high performance include: continuous process improvement, flexibility, teamwork and continuous learning. When H-P set up a new plant in Puerto Rico, the company brought people in for interviews in groups of twenty at a time. First, they filled out applications. Then, the recruiters asked them to look carefully at the application form, and to think about how it might be improved (continuous improvement). Then, they formed teams to summarize their suggestions (teamwork). Reforming into different teams (flexibility), they conferred and reported what they’d learned so far in the hiring process (continuous learning). Every applicant went through this sequence four or five times. Finally, the recruiters asked, “Do you notice something different going on here? What message do you think we’re trying to get across to you?” One H-P manager noted, “They then told us about the core values. We didn’t have to tell them. It’s important to be explicit about what you’re doing, the way you design your culture. You don’t get there by default.“

• At the Gates Rubber plant in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, all job applicants went through a five-step screening and interviewing process. First, they had a general interview with people from the personnel department. Three days later, someone else from personnel interviewed them a second time, to verify information and impressions from the first meeting. The third step consisted of a group interview with the plant manager and two other people from different parts of the plant who evaluated communication skills, work attitudes and general confidence level. Since teams perform all the work in the plant, these interviews also explored the applicant’s ability to respond well in a group setting.

If this panel approved the candidate, the personnel department conducted an intensive reference check. Candidates whose references checked out then come back for a final meeting which lasted a couple of hours and usually took place on a weekend so the candidate’s spouse or significant other could attend. During this meeting, the plant manager and two other people from the plant reviewed its policies, practices and benefits, showed a video on Gates Rubber’s history, and discussed what it meant to join a high-performance company.

Each step in the interview process tried to surface the kinds of problems that might otherwise show up only after the company had hired someone. Given the costs of quality mistakes, injuries, work slowdowns from incompetence, and overtime, Gates believed that its investment in hiring paid off. The Siloam Springs plant had an eight percent annual turnover rate versus 100% in a comparable plant in town owned by another company.


Hearseman said...

<,The Siloam Springs plant had an eight percent annual turnover rate versus 100% in a comparable plant in town owned by another company. >>

There is a BIG difference between working at Gates and a chicken plant.
There is a reason for the 100% turnover rate...

john cotter said...

Yes, that's true. However, I worked with Ford designing a new air conditioner plant in Juarez some years ago. There was a similar Ford plant next door. The percentages were similar - less than 5% in the first year versus 150% next door.
Over the years, I learned to hire slow and fire fast.
Thanks for your comment.