In many companies, the hiring process follows a predictable path and usually involves the same decision makers. Typically, hiring managers and HR representatives do most of the work when it comes to evaluating resumes, conducting interviews, and making the offers. Companies that want to improve their hiring processes, though, should leverage other data sources that are available to them.

Because they want to have some say in who’s hired to fill positions that report directly to them, frontline managers are usually involved in the interview and hiring decisions for their departments. But very few of those managers have enough (or even any!) training in those areas. In order to be effective contributors to the hiring process, at the very least they need a basic knowledge of what they legally can and cannot ask during an interview. As the people to whom those new hires will report directly, frontline managers also must know how to assess candidates in two main areas: how well they will fit with the team, and whether they have the minimum required skills needed to succeed in their new roles.

Fit can be somewhat subjective but is measurable by certain behavioral and job fit assessments. For example, a caretaker at a senior living facility needs vastly different skills from an IT network support specialist at the same company’s corporate office. In some cases, a position may require certain strictly defined technical skills that can be demonstrated by credentials such as lists of prior accomplishments and professional certifications. In other cases, aptitude and behavioral fit as measured by Insight’s Premium Care Selection assessments for the senior living industry are excellent at identifying a care staff candidate’s potential, and goes further in preparing hiring managers with legal interview questions, and those structured to the job description.

Frontline managers aren’t the only people whose contributions to the hiring process are often underestimated, though. There’s one person who’s even more overlooked, even though he or she has the potential to play a pivotal role in an organization’s interview and screening process: the front desk receptionist.

Think about it: the front desk receptionist is often the first person that prospective employees meet face to face at a company. It’s common knowledge that interviewees are typically on their very best behavior when meeting with HR representatives or with the managers who might be supervising them. Candidates’ behavior in front of people who seem “unimportant” offers a useful piece of data as well. When prospective employees interact with front desk receptionists (or, for that matter, anyone else who has no say in the hiring decision), how they act can speak volumes about who they are.

Because their primary role is to be the “first face” of the organization, front desk receptionists spend a lot of time interacting with people. And in the course of those interactions, you can bet they become very good at noticing—and remembering—who is courteous, who is rude and arrogant, and who is clueless. Hiring managers may be surprised at what they can learn when they ask the front desk receptionist to offer an evaluation of the interviewees he or she meets when they first arrive in the office.

Hiring managers and HR representatives will always play significant roles in the hiring process—after all, that is a huge part of their job descriptions! But this doesn’t mean that no one else can contribute useful information about candidates. With a little training, frontline managers can be influential participants in the hiring process, too. Front desk receptionists, too, can offer unique insights that can enable organizations to fine-tune their assessments of candidates. By casting wider nets, companies can catch a wider array of data—which will enable them to improve the quality of their hires.

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