When someone asks what you're looking for in a franchisee or employee are you guilty of saying "I'll know it when I see it."? Does someone on your staff say this?
The trouble is people that "know it when they see it" generally don't keep track of how the hiring actually works out.
They don't track:
- How many past hires lived up to their potential.
- How many are ranked as top performers or got promoted.
- How many quit or got fired, or should have been fired.
It's human nature to forget about bad decisions while patting yourself on the back for the good ones. With their typical overly positive attitude, franchisors are more vulnerable to this kind of thinking.
The selection process does not end once the person has been hired. It can, if you're not overly concerned with improving your hiring track record. But, if you want to get better at hiring top performers, you have to look at both your good hires and those that have not worked out.
A good selection process is a multi-stage process:
- The hiring/interview process itself,
- Training the new hires and
- Validating the hiring decision and training process, which we'll explore in a future post.
You can't simply "wing it" and expect to hire a lot of top performers. You might hire a few top performers, but odds are you'll hire a lot of duds for every top performer. And you won't know why.
The hiring process can cost you a minimum of 6 months of wages, if you have even a 50% turnover (and I don't know any retail business that averages that low of a turnover rate) the cost of hiring the wrong people can add up very quickly.
It is not worth using a "hit or miss" approach e.g. spending a lot of money on hiring and training to get just a few top performers if you can implement a more cost-effective and formal approach to selection, hire the top performers without using the "hit and miss" approach.
You need to interview potential franchisees or hires using a structure, which will help you keep track of your enterprise's past decisions.
What is a structured interview?
A structured interview is one designed to measure job knowledge.
In a nutshell, a structured interview can consist of a variety of interview types. None of them necessarily personality based. The key to a structured interview is that using one makes you ask every candidate the same questions every single time.
Using a structured interview plus tracking their performance helps you learn what kinds of responses the best franchisees and employees tend to give, and how not-so-good performers tend to answer.
Using a well designed structured interview helps you ask the same questions of all candidates. As a result, you'll be able to predict how well a candidate will perform about 51% of the time. I'll grant that this is not an overly strong accuracy level, but it's a huge improvement over using unstructured interviews which typically have only a 38% accuracy level.
How do you improve your selection decisions?
The first thing to do is to look at the job requirements. That will give you a good basis to develop your own job related questions.
Then, ask situational questions. Find out how the candidate has acted in the past or how they think they'll react to certain situations. Give them a scenario. Ask if they've ever run into similar situations. If they say yes, ask how they handled the situation. If not, ask "What would you do?".
Sample questions for "high demand" environments
For instance, if you're hiring someone where high levels of energy and drive are required, you might want to ask questions like:
"Describe a time when you had to work more than x hours". Once they've answered, probe deeper by asking the natural follow-up questions:
"How many days in a row did you have to do this?", "How did you feel about having to do this?" and "What did you think about having to work these hours?"
If long hours and high energy levels are needed in the job and the applicant give answers that demonstrate low energy, then it's best for both you and the applicant to cut the interview short. Save yourself the time and effort to spend interviewing candidates that have high energy.
For QSR workers, one good way to identify if someone has what it takes is by watching them interact with the work environment during the interview. If possible, excuse yourself and keep an eye on them because this is where you'll see if they have what it takes. Watch how they interact with the environment.
- Do they look around?
- Do they show an interest in how other workers handle things at their workstation or customers?
If there's no interest shown, then again, cut the interview short.
Using questions designed to probe what actions the applicant actually performed in similar situations gives you valuable insight into how they're going to act after you hire them. Using behavior based questions gives you information, instead of just opinions from candidates.
Sample questions for Franchisee Interviews
Here a some examples when interviewing franchisee candidates for a retail outlet. One of the things you'll want to focus in on is how the candidate feel about customers. So you would want to ask a questions like:
"Think of what steps you would take if you were managing a store when one of your employees comes to you because an irate customer is demanding his money back for a product even though he does not have a receipt. You have a policy of not giving refunds without receipts.
- What would you say to the employee?"
- What would you say to the customer?"
- What would you do to prevent such an event from occurring in the future?"
Good answers should include the following:
- The candidate speaks to the customer directly and does not send the employee back to deal with the customer.
- Polite but firm responses.
- The manager should find out more about why the product was unacceptable.
Poor answers to watch out for:
- Sending the employee back to deal with the customer.
- Not explaining the policy about receipts.
- Not being polite and responsive to the customer's needs.
- Not probing for information about the problem with the product.
As you can see from the above example, you'll want to ask questions from a slightly different angle. Ideally you'd like to ask, or have someone else involved in the selection process ask very similar questions. The candidate can tell you what you want to hear once. But if you repeatedly ask questions about the same behavior, it's very difficult for them to track how they've responded to all of them.
That's one of the benefits of using job-specific assessment tool. If designed properly, the tool you chose will look at job-specific behaviors from several angles and then typically average the score for each question.
Benefits of a Structured Interview
- Have measurable bottom line organizational impact,
- Help interviewers improve the odds of selecting franchise or employee candidates with greater accuracy
- Are viewed as objective, information-based, and useful by interviewers,
- Impress candidates to a point where it affects acceptance decisions.
Costs of a Structured Interview
- Having all interviewers follow "the script".
- Can be expensive developing and administering.
- Full constraints on questions and scoring.
The benefits of using structured interviews far outweigh the costs.
The next step is to develop your own rating system. One where you can assign a weighting to your candidate's responses. This promotes a decision based on the candidate's skills in doing the job rather than being based on interviewers' gut feel.
To begin introducing structured interviews into your franchise system, please start with these free white papers.