Hiring The Best

At some point in your career as a business owner or manager, you’ll need to lead a hiring process. Before you do, take the time to think about how to hire the best people for your business. Many managers still rely largely on gut instinct or simply accept the first person who comes knocking at the door. Taking a more planned approach can be an important competitive advantage.

If you were purchasing new equipment, you would first consider the financial investment. You wouldn’t pick just any equipment, you’d identify what the equipment should be able to do, choose the features that most closely match your needs, and ensure a level of reliability and return on investment that makes the financials work. You might even set up a maintenance schedule, so you could respond quickly if the equipment didn’t perform to optimal levels.

Though people are immeasurably more complex than equipment, using a similar thought process can help you see that the investment in hiring great people is well worth it. Once you include benefits and other costs, such as training and skills upgrading to keep up with technology advancements, hiring a new employee at 40K a year will likely cost your business more than half a million dollars over 10 years of employment. That’s a huge financial investment. The costs are even higher if that same employee leaves the company and you have to start all over again.

Hiring without a process is like trying to hit a target wearing a blindfold; you may know the general direction in which you aim, but precision is unlikely. Here are a few ideas to help keep your hiring on the mark:

  • Prepare your job ad with the reader in mind: know your most important audiences and place your ads accordingly.
  • Ask all applicants to include a cover letter along with the resume or application form. The cover letter may offer otherwise hidden clues into an applicant’s ability to formulate and communicate their thoughts and their ability to stand above the crowd.
  • Review the resume and cover letter and pre-screen the top few candidates by phone. Asking a few questions related to their background and competencies will save you interview time by weeding out those who clearly don’t meet your minimum criteria.
  • Respond to each and every applicant with whom you speak, even those who are screened out. This helps enhance your company’s brand. Be mindful that the applicants may also be your customers, suppliers or vendors, if not now, in the future.
  • Rely less on the top 100 interview questions from the Internet and more on your knowledge of the job. What skills will the ideal candidate need to possess to thrive in your workplace?
  • Schedule a consecutive block of time to interview the candidate using quality questions that address the competencies you require of the position. Strong      responsibility and proactivity skills are essential in most roles.
  • Before the meeting, turn off your cell phone and avoid interruptions. Your candidate has set aside time from their schedule to meet you and they deserve your undivided attention.
  • Explain to the candidate how the interview will proceed. At the end, offer an opportunity to ask questions as a way to signal the wrap up of the interview.
  • Again, communicate with all candidates to share the good and bad news. It’s only fair to let them know the outcome so they can begin planning right away or move on to the next opportunity.

The measure of whether or not your hiring process is successful is in the effectiveness of your new employee. The best advice is to recognize that your ‘gut instinct’ probably has merit, while using solid interviewing and assessment skills to make the final decision.