Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and several other management books, is famous for saying that the key is “getting the right people on the right seats in the bus”. Over the years of working with leaders, I understand why as many as half of all people hired are not right for the position: we ask the wrong questions and compromise on making precise decisions.
Dr. Bradford Smart conceptualized a process that significantly increases the odds that you’ll hire the right person for the position – saving you thousands of dollars in recruitment fees, lost productivity, lost opportunities, and deflating existing staff’s morale. Topgrading is the name of the book that describes his process and I highly recommend it. If you’re in sales, you can understand the value of these strategies by reading Topgrading for Sales.
Let me share a few of key strategies to hire the “right” person
- Focus on the competencies needed to do the job. All too often people focus on the kinds of education the candidate had, courses taken and grades. Far more valuable are the actual experiences which demonstrate depth of skills and passion. (For instance, one recruiter once narrowed the search to two people – a person with an Ivy League education in computer science and another without. The latter showed up with four sample projects he had conducted on his own and demonstrated passion; the former (who originally was favored) had nothing but class projects to show – and therefore out.)
- Get multiple perspectives of the person. In addition to the resume, have more than one person interview the person. In some cases, have multiple interviewers present so one can focus on asking questions while the other studies how they were answered (e.g. verbal and non-verbal behaviors aren’t in sync); Use personality tests to understand motivation. Do background checks to make sure nothing disturbing is found with police and financial records.
- Be thorough. Don’t rely on a resume – which may be inaccurate and/or have gaps. Don’t rely on references offered – they rarely give you complete insights. Instead, tell the candidate to review his/her entire career history, and let him/her know that you will want to contact one person at each job and would like to know what he/she thinks that person will say. Any hesitancies indicate problem areas. (Indeed, in one case a discrepancy on start/stop dates was discovered. The candidate suggested it wasn’t important. The hiring recruiter was looking for someone who pays attention to detail – which was clearly missing.)
What are some of your experiences? What tips can you offer the community? Share with us!