The right match

Hiring someone often boils down to picking a winner from among the pile of resumes submitted in response to a newspaper ad. You know it’s not the best method, but it’s all you have time for.

Foundation Software, a Brunswick-based accounting software firm, has found that investing the time and effort to get the best person every time pays off in the long run.

"You have to take your people and combine them with your processes and mechanisms of the company," says Fred Ode, CEO of Foundation Software. "The biggest challenge we had initially was to hire the right people."

There are two main components to finding the right fit at Foundation Software: Aptitude and attitude.

"We want them to fit into the culture and enjoy working here and have the personality to fit the job, and we want them to have the best aptitude for the job," says Ode.

A job candidate is given a problem-solving test as soon as he or she is called in for an interview.

"We discovered a high correlation between individuals who score well on the test and those that perform well on the job," says Ode. "We’ve had people that were borderline on the test, but fit the culture and the job requirements. They went through a series of interviews and everything else was right, so we would make a small exception.

"I don’t think any one of those people has ever worked out. Never. It always jumped out to bite us in the butt."

Passing the test doesn’t translate into an instant job offer, though. The candidate still has to be evaluated for attitude.

"Does their personality fit the company culture? That’s critical," says Ode. "I tried personality profiles and psychological batteries, but they never came close to working. Finally, I settled on very traditional methods."

Applicants are put through a series of interviews, starting with a brief phone interview. Once the problem-solving test is administered and the results known, the person interviews with three people — the appropriate department manager, someone in the same position they are being interviewed for and Ode.

"If one person has a bad feeling, we generally won’t hire them," says Ode. "It’s not worth it."

While this commitment to hiring right may seem time-consuming, Ode argues otherwise.

"I think a lot of it is not that we put in so much time, but rather, we put in some processes and procedures to do it efficiently," says Ode. "There is not a lot of time involved with the test. There is no need to interview people two to three hours. You don’t have to interview 50 people."

The procedures that could identify a successful programmer or client services person failed to reliably predict successful salespeople, so Ode had to create another system.

"We have gone to hell and back to try to get the right salespeople," says Ode. "We hired consulting firms, did psychological profiling and all kinds of other tests, then three months later, the person would have to be let go. We have decided that unless someone really jumps out at us, we’re going to grow all of our salespeople in-house."

Ode uses the challenging client services department as his resource pool for his sales staff. Employees working there already have the product and industry knowledge. Those who have the right personality and the ability to sell are moved into sales positions.

The result of these hiring processes is a company that is predicting a growth rate of 15 percent to 20 percent for 2004.

"A lot of processes and procedures are 100 percent dependent on hiring the right people," says Ode. "You can put all the procedures in place that you want, but if you don’t have the right people, they won’t work." How to reach: Foundation Software, (330) 220-8383


Asking questions


Think you’ve had some strange job interviews? A survey by OfficeTeam asked 150 executives for the strangest question they’ve been asked by a hiring manager during a job interview.

The most unusual questions:

* Why are manhole covers round?

* What would I find in your refrigerator?

* Do you have air conditioning in your home?

* How will taking this job change your life?

* What made you move to a backward city like this one?

Some questions may have been intended to reveal a job candidate’s aspirations:


* What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?

* What classes did you like in high school?

* Do you see yourself in my position in the future?

Other questions fall into the icebreaker category:

* What’s your favorite color?

* If you could be any animal, what would you be?

* If you were having a dinner party and could invite three famous people, who would they be?

* What’s the last book that you read?