Ten Steps to a Great Hire

As Paul Dickson said, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.!”

There are plenty of lists of the top ten hiring mistakes to avoid; no need to dwell on the negative. Here is a top ten list of things to do and attitudes to adopt that will ensure the likelihood of a great hire. Note that this ups the odds but doesn’t offer guarantees. There are too many variables to offer a guarantee. But include these steps and you’ll succeed more often¬† than you will fail.

  1. First and foremost, know what you want. Identify and communicate to every candidate quantifiable success factors that must be achieved in 90 days, six months and at the end of year one. In his book, You’re Not the Person I Hired, Brad Remillard refers to these as success factors.
  2. Design your interview process, that’s right, I said DESIGN your interview process to uncover what you have determined are relevant predictors of success.
  3. DON’T SETTLE. Extend an offer only to candidates capable of performing at the highest level. When I asked one Tucson CEO and Vistage member about his biggest regret after retiring as CEO of a local non-profit, he said, “With respect to talent, I settled.”
  4. Interview in teams of at least two people. We each bring our biases into interviews and lob softballs at candidates we like and hardballs at those we don’t. Teams ensure a well rounded set of biases. Avoid large numbers of sequential interviews. By the time a candidate reaches the last interviewer, they will know so much about the company and the people the impression they make will differ significantly from those during the early interviews.
  5. Rely on a combination of past performance, job accomplishments, and a candidates deep understanding of what you need done, how, and by when.
  6. Realize you must answer three questions about every candidate. Can she do the job? Will she do the job? And How will she do the job (cultural fit).
  7. Anticipate hiring needs. Be scouting and interviewing constantly. As Eric Herrenkohl discusses in How to Hire A Players, have candidates on the bench, a farm team, for positions that you hire for from time to time so that you can avoid panic or expedience hires.
  8. For senior positions, do not rely simply on recruiters or traditional advertising channels. You want the sleeper candidates, those not actively looking but who must be courted and wooed. And you have to be prepared to offer more than just more money to get them.
  9. If you make a mistake, undo it quickly. The surest way to lose your current A Players is to bring in and tolerate employees who are not A Players. At that point, those who never thought about leaving begin to wonder if they are in the right place.
  10. From the time they come in the door, treat every candidate like the potential gold they are. Welcome them by name, make them comfortable if they have to wait. Be respectful and courteous. Remember, the great candidates are interviewing you as well.
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