by Yamatzy De León-Mettee
November 2, 2011

Great companies realize they cannot thrive without the right people. Employing the right people does not begin with a simple newspaper ad listing an opening for work; rather, it starts well in advance, with a hiring philosophy that is aligned with the organization’s recruitment and selection process. All companies have some type of hiring philosophy, whether it is written or just common practice. Hiring philosophies vary depending on the size of a company and their industry. They adopt a philosophy that they feel works best for them, which may differ from what works best for the company next door.

Show Me First Philosophy

In years past, organizations have used their summer or internship programs as hiring tools for management and permanent positions. This is a practice still followed by many companies today and is an excellent method of evaluating potential hires prior to either party making a commitment. This is a good way to see first-hand the capabilities of the talent pool and weed out those who do not make the grade. At the same time, it gives the candidate an opportunity to determine if the organization is aligned with what he/she is looking for in an employer. Some organizations hire exclusively by employing temporary or co-op experiences, and it works well for them.

Companies may also monitor a potential employee before they are hired.  Organizations such as Starbucks Coffee will have applicants shadow a current employee in the position being considered. They have them work a day to observe the candidate. Other companies choose to engage role-playing for particular positions such as customer service jobs. In this situation, a simulation of a customer interaction will give the employer the opportunity to see how the candidate might react in a particular circumstance. These scenarios not only allow the employer to evaluate the candidate and how they might do on the job but also give the candidate a chance to consider whether the position is the right fit for them. Employers and potential hires make better, more educated hiring decisions this way. Businesses are moving to this hiring model as a way to watch an employee in action but do so before they decide whether or not to make an offer of employment.

The bottom line here is that however an employee is brought into the organization during the hiring process, there is careful consideration of the underlying philosophy. Does the company want to fill a hole? Does the company want to entice an individual to join their ranks, or do they want to take the time and effort to add the right person who has a mutual desire to be part of the company and who has the ability to achieve success?

Legacy Philosophy

It is well known that one of the best sources for applicant referrals is the current employee base. Hiring smart often means that the recruiting focus begins in “your own back yard,” meaning within your own workforce. A large percentage of company hires start with referrals from current employees.In keeping with this mind-set, organizations of all sizes often choose to follow the “legacy” philosophy. When an organization adopts this approach, often multiple family members can be found working for the company but likely in different departments or business units.  Smaller companies, especially family-owned businesses, apply this hiring philosophy. Family-owned companies pass their business and expertise on from one family member to another, and from one generation to the next; therefore, much of the transfer of knowledge is kept within the family. Often times, it is very difficult to gain entry into these organizations. When an outsider does get into the “family,” they might find it challenging to move up within the organization, as preferential treatment is often given to family members.

The same companies encourage their employees to recruit their own family and friends when positions are available. Since employees spend a large percentage of their time at work, it makes sense that they would feel comfortable and would want to spend time with people similar to them and who think like they do. When one employee refers a friend or family member, it is likely that he/she will only do so if t the referral is good, as nobody wants the bad press of bringing in the next biggest loser. Likewise, when someone is referred to a company, it is human nature to want to do a good job as a way of thanking the person who helped in obtaining the position. 

While there are benefits, this method has come under its share of scrutiny. The legacy philosophy often perpetuates a workforce that tends to be populated by the same or similar people already employed and often limits the potential for others of diverse backgrounds and experiences to enter into the fold. This philosophy often fails to create a diverse workforce and only serves to maintain the status quo.  Though this philosophy works well for some companies, one must sincerely consider hiring a diverse workforce, which could contribute to the growth potential of the organization, furthering the ability to seek new ideas and ways of doing business. For large organizations that follow this philosophy, an equal opportunity issue is created; therefore, additional avenues must be explored to bring new employees into the organization. 

Culture-Based Philosophy

It is not sufficient to have knowledge and experience alone. One must also have the right attitude, aptitude and personal attributes important to the organization. Adopting a culture-based philosophy ensures that a person has the right mind-set and value base along with necessary knowledge and experience. Then, the person can be trained for the particular opportunity. One example of this would be companies that consider the growing need for Spanish-speaking employees. The estimated explosion of the Hispanic population has made this language skill and cultural attribute highly sought after. Many organizations are seeking individuals who not only have specific skills in a particular industry but who also speak Spanish and understand the Hispanic culture. One drawback to this is that