The Hiring Process

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At my job we have a great need for hiring new staff as many positions and skilled people are not in place.  Recently I needed to hire nurses, Head Nurse, dentist, some mid-level managers such as Marketing Manager, Canteen and Maintenance Coordinators, a driver, pharmacy salespeople, cash counter person and a cook.  

We received quite a few applicaitons, but they were a very mixed bag.  Many people did not nearly meet the minimum qualifications as stated in the job descriptions. 

I adapted an interview process based on one which I had used, as Director of an NGO, in the US,.  Prior to this in my current job people were interviewed and hired based on a very "loose" process.  Some people seemed to be hired based on who they knew or whether they had relatives that knew others.  My goal was to try to "level the playing field" by initiating a process in which everybody was asked the same questions, except for those which were job specific, and evaluated based on the same criteria.

I felt that the questions which we asked were basic, "describe your personality; list your strengths and weaknesses, tell us about your background and why you are the most qualified, definitions of words such as "proactive", "team", "accontability", "customer service", "ethics" and "trust".  The majority of the interviews were conducted in Nepali.  For those applicants the staff and I interviewed many seemed to be focused more on providing me with copies of their documents then answering the questions. 

However, what I found is that the applicants were not accustomed to these types of questions and many were not prepared to "think on their feet".  Instead of attempting to answer the questions many just looked at their shoes, giving no response.  A number of the medical applicants commented that they expected medical questions only. 

The questions which I had developed attempted to determine information regarding: 1) the applicant's experience/education relating to the job; 2) personality fit with the Hospital; 3) whether the person understood key job concepts; 4) ability to self evaluate; 5) ability to follow through; and 6) job specific understanding.

I was most surprised with the lack of repsonses to the question, "please describe your personality".  Most applicants discussed their education and family; personality seemed to be a very foreign word.  When I pressed people this question was sitll difficult for them to answer. 

What does this mean in the Nepali context?  I'm not quite sure but  In the US we talk about our personalities and "who we are".  Is this an eastern vs. western thing?  Again I don't know.

A friend wrote this to me, "I think many of our so called cultural values are not specific to each culture as we sometimes think. But instead of framing the values in our western way of thinking, I would ask prospective hires what are their values and what they think their culture values and then ask them, if you approve of course, if they would honour those behaviours. And then, if they don't, what should be the recourse that the administration should take.  So for instance if someone says that they do respect punctuality as does their culture, but they often come in late, they would have told you in the interview how to deal with them."

For me this is always a learning experience, i.e. trying to balance a way that I grew up with and lived most of my life vs. the still newness, even after five years, of learning how another culture does things.  I have a vision of where I'd like the organisation that I'm working in to try to reach.  But again this is very much a balancing act of taking my knowledge and experience and applying it in a way which can be communicated cross culturally and still produce desired results. 




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