How to hire the right employee

Sometimes the worst part of being an employer is the tedious hiring process. Initial questions include: Where do I start looking for candidates? What should the qualifications be? How long should it take to find the right person? The list goes on, but a new Internet-based tool by Kolbe Corp. (Phoenix, Ariz.

By Lara Jackson September 1, 1999

Sometimes the worst part of being an employer is the tedious hiring process. Initial questions include: Where do I start looking for candidates? What should the qualifications be? How long should it take to find the right person? The list goes on, but a new Internet-based tool by Kolbe Corp. (Phoenix, Ariz.) can take some second-guessing out of the employee hunt.

The firm says its Kolbe Warewithal Online program, located at www.kolbe.com , gives managers a new tool for making recruiting and selection decisions, developing high-performance teams, improving leadership and career management, and enabling innovation.

The Kolbe Concept looks for four creative instincts, or Action Modes, that can be found by evaluating job candidates. These abilities are:

  • Fact Finder: Handles information gathering;

  • Follow Thru: Organizes information;

  • Quick Start: Deals with the unknowns; and

  • Implementer: Manages the tangibles.

Action Modes are determined by taking the company’s Kolbe A Index text, which reveals candidates’ natural strengths and abilities and gives participants the language to describe them. For each Action Mode, a natural advantage is decided by a person’s intensity level. These levels include insistence, accommodation, or resistance. Test results show 20% of participants are insistent, 60% are accommodating, and 20% are resistant.

Hands-on example

The Kolbe Concept was used recently by Buschman Corp. (Cleveland, O.), a steel fabricator of metering rods for paper mills. Tom Sherman, Buschman’s president, took the test and used it in the firm’s employment process—from hiring to education. “After taking the Kolbe Index, I was amazed how accurately it predicted my approach to getting things done,” he says.

Mr. Sherman adds that Kolbe’s process generates synergies and helps create teams with a more optimal balance of participants. Each team begins with a different conative makeup—the reasons behind people’s actions—for each project. If this mix isn’t thought out properly, a “conative meltdown” could occur and cause an imbalance of skills, tendencies, and behaviors. If an engineer is working alone, then the conative makeup of the support staff is also a factor.

Though managers were concerned when Kolbe was implemented at Buschman, participants progressed from adapting to individuals to working together as a team. Buschman’s job candidates now take the test and get a full report and career coaching, even if they aren’t offered a job.

Insistent engineers

Since engineering relies on collecting and assessing data, determining priorities, and defining terms, insistent Fact Finder is the Action Mode most common for engineers. Among these Fact Finder engineers, nine of 10 are insistent types with a tendency to go into research or design engineering. Likewise, insistent Quick Start or Fact Finder engineers may be especially inventive, while insistent Follow Thru engineers could make excellent software programmers or systems engineers. Insistent Implementers can be good model builders and experimentalists. Even engineers found to be resistant or accommodating regarding these modes can offer traits beneficial to a company. “It would be wrong to think that to be a good engineer you had to fit a certain Kolbe profile,” says Mr. Sherman. “I even think there is a role for resistant Fact Finder engineers.”

Three kinds of “Fact Finder”

An Insistent Fact Fact Finder Will: An Accommodating Fact Finder is willing to: A Preventive Fact Finder won’t:
Source: Control Engineering with information from Kolbe Corp.
Collect data Review data Require documentation
Define terms Use terms properly Need to be appropriate
Establish priorities Work within the priorities Offer justifications
Determine appropriateness Respond appropriately Be tied to tradition
Seek specificity Give specifics Get bogged down in minutiae
Provide historical evidence Review historical Over-analyze evidence
Quantify and rank order Accept rank ordering Need on-going evaluation
Create analogies Test analogies Need exact comparisons
Assess probabilities Go with the highest probability Choose the obvious solution
Put it in writing Review written material Require written proof
Author Information
Lara Jackson, editorial assistant ljackson@cahners.com