About 12 years ago, Eric Yunag, CEO of Dakota Security Systems, was rising through the ranks of his company as an IT director.
Yunag was seeking good candidates to hire for his department, so he turned to Rebecca Bayne, president of Bayne Consulting & Search Inc. (BCSI), which specializes in recruiting qualified workers in the security industry.
The move was good for Dakota Security Systems, and it began a strong business relationship between the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based systems integrator and BCSI.
Speaking on a panel during November’s ISC East in New York City, Yunag, Bayne and other experts reflected on the elements of a good hiring process and how companies, particularly security integrators, can differentiate themselves in identifying and hiring good candidates through transparency, confidentiality and compensation.
Communication between a candidate and an employer is key, Bayne advised, and the hiring process must be transparent to strengthen confidence in a company among potential employees.
Confidentiality also is important, particularly in the security industry, she added. The security industry can be a small place, and calling around for backdoor references can alert a candidate and erode trust.
“It’s a tendency we have. Fight that tendency. If it’s a person you want to hire, they will give you those references,” Bayne said during the panel, “Talent Management Best Practices for the Security Industry.”
Yunag agreed, emphasizing the importance of transparency to his company. “Transparency to me means a couple of things,” he said. “To me, it is creating clarity for expectations that people have as to how they will be evaluated.”
Dakota Security Systems has been getting better and better every year at telling candidates what sort of things the company will ask them about. For the integrator, it boils down to the “Four C’s” of culture, chemistry, competency and character.
Yunag and his managers strive to make it clear to candidates that the Four C’s will comprise the core of their evaluation. Hiring the wrong person can be a costly error that stymies progress, Yunag warned, so it’s best to take the time upfront to focus on what makes an employee a good fit.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes,” Yunag said. “If it’s going to take longer, it’s going to take longer [to hire someone].”
Companies can fall into a trap of focusing too much on competency, he cautioned. An over-reliance on competency, for instance, can cause miscalculations on employee character and the potential fit into workplace culture.
“We are spending more and more time on the front side of the interview process, thinking about what type of behavioral questions to ask candidates around our core values and mission,” Yunag said. “It’s a big part of our interview process as a whole. It’s an investment in time that pays off and produces significant results.”
Yunag offered a generic behavioral question his hiring managers might consider: “What’s an example of a time you made a mistake or let down a customer or a coworker? Afterward, how did you make it right?”
That said, managers at Dakota Security Systems do not get hung up solely on behavioral assessments in the hiring process. To develop a clear picture of good candidates, Dakota Security Systems assessed its own high-performing staff to determine what its best people look like. This assessment provides input into discussions of the characteristics of a good candidate.
An examination of such an assessment triggers conversations and questions in addition to highlighting things that might prove helpful in the hiring process, Yunag said. “It’s not a decision-making tool,” Yunag said, “but rather one more data point along the way to help us make an evaluation.”
When it comes to compensation, the best candidates are worth more, Bayne said. While salary must be competitive, she said, savvy employers can develop creative enhancements to compensation plans. A competitive salary is necessary for good workers, Yunag acknowledged, hailing “exceptional wages for exceptional performances.”
In its efforts to be transparent, Dakota Security Systems is careful to explain in detail the factors involved in the company’s compensation. The company also enhances salary through good health plans, vacation and other benefits.