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Five Keys To Hiring The Right People

When was the last time you had to fire someone? How’d it feel?  
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  I can be pretty emotionally detached when I need to. But, terminating employees has never been easy for me. Those who find it easy might want to do some soul searching (or go see a counselor).   I still remember the time I fired a guy who absolutely deserved it. He actually threatened his manager by saying, “I oughta kill you!” The decision to release him from the company took all of about two seconds. It was a no-brainer.   But when it came to sitting down and actually terminating him, my stomach was in knots. I didn’t feel an ounce of remorse, nor did I waiver in my decision when he pleaded for mercy. But I still felt sick. I’m sure you know the feeling.   I’ve learned over the years that there is one good way to minimize these types of experiences as well as the enormous financial cost that comes along with it. Hire the right people and keep them.   Now that’s a lot easier said than done, obviously. No one is batting a thousand here. Statistically, most are well under fifty percent in terms of success. But there are definite steps you can take that will raise your success rate significantly.   Let me give you five things you need to do to considerably improve your track record in hiring the right people. In this game there are no guarantees, but following these guidelines has enabled me to establish a success rate of well over 70% in the last 10 years.

Steps in the Right Direction

1. Clearly define what you want. Too many companies feel a need, throw together an ad and start interviewing. That’s a sure way to fail. This deserves time to reflect and involve others. Sit down with the key stakeholders and determine exactly what you need. What you come up with will often be markedly different than what you originally thought.   One other important element here is to create and document a Performance-Based Job Description. This takes the standard job description and adds three key elements:  
  • The key business metrics that will define the person’s success
  • The behavioral traits and attitudes that will allow this person to fit the team’s chemistry
  • A snapshot of what a successful first 90 days looks like
  All of this work enables you to craft the kind of interview questions that will help you find what you’re looking for. Remember, if you aim at nothing, you’ll get it every time.   2. Have a well-defined, documented process. A lot of managers are shooting from the hip. They jump into the process haphazardly, doing it one way this time and another way the next. This leads to inconsistent results. If you aren’t following a proven process it’s very easy to overlook an important step.   Map out your process and walk through it with everyone who’s going to be involved. Make sure each person understands their role and the overall picture so they see how and where they fit in. Allow people to ask questions and check for understanding until you’re confident everyone is on the same page.  
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  3. Ensure there is alignment with your core values. Don’t rely too much on the person’s resume or experience. I learned many years ago from one of my mentors that it’s much better to hire for attitude and train for skills. You want to find people that hold to and embrace the values that are most important to your organization. This is essential in building the kind of culture you want.   While the person may need a basic set of skills to be able to do the job, the best person for the job is not necessarily the most experienced person on the market. I’d much rather find a person with less experience, but just the right values and attitude. This cements the chemistry of the team.   We all know what it’s like to have a person who is a high performer, but is a cancer to the culture. It’s far too painful and costly.   4. Spend a liberal amount of time with the candidate. I’ve talked with too many managers who hire office, management or even executive level staff after only spending an hour with the person. That’s not nearly enough time to identify whether or not this person meets your requirements, especially if you’ve done a good job with #1 above.   I recommend that every hiring manager spend at least 3 hours with a candidate for non-labor positions. A person can only act for so long. Eventually the facade will come down. But you have to be willing to spend enough time with them for that to happen.   I also advise that the last hour or so be done in an informal setting, such as lunch or dinner. I especially recommend you take your spouse or significant other with you and have the candidate do the same. This will often allow you to see another side of the person than you’ve not seen up to that point.   5. Involve the right people. Don’t fly solo on this. Be humble and wise enough to involve other key stakeholders, such as those who will be peers or direct reports of the new hire. Especially involve those who firmly embrace your core values and those who bring a very different perspective to the table.   Listen closely to these people and don’t write off their concerns, even if you’re enamored with the candidate. If you trusted them enough to involve them, pay attention to their feedback.  
Clearly identifying what you want is the first critical step towards success.

Joe Denner


Don’t Miss These Bonus Items

Read my blog post titled, “Three Reasons to End the Interview Immediately” and listen to my podcast titled, “The Seven Biggest Mistakes Companies Make When Hiring.” Both contain key pieces of information that’ll help you raise the level of your hiring game.   Once you have the right folks on board it’s important you do two things. Keep them and shape them into a great team. In regards to keeping them, see my blog post called, “Four Ways to Keep Your Best People from Jumping Ship.”   Now it’s time to build a winning team. I detail three critical aspects of this in my video series, “Three Keys to Building A Great Team“. It’s free for a limited time. Click here to watch it now.   Question: What’s your biggest challenge in finding good people? [question]hire-right-peopl[/question]  

Seize the day!


Three Reasons to End the Interview Immediately

I have interviewed hundreds and hundreds of candidates over the last 15 years. That means I have easily spent into the thousands of hours engaged in this challenging activity.


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I’ve interviewed some real doozies in my time. Like the guy who snuck into a foreign country to do a client project because he was tired of waiting for his visa. But wait, it gets better. When he finally got caught and was deported, he decided to sneak back in. Needless to say he didn’t receive an invitation to the next round of interviews.

As I reflect on those thousands of hours I come to the realization that I have wasted some of the best hours of my life with unqualified candidates. Sad, but true.

Your time is way too valuable to waste, and so is mine. So one thing I’ve learned is that there are some questions you need to ask toward the beginning of the interview. If they fail any one of these “tests” it is time to politely say “goodbye.”

I know that may feel awkward…no really awkward. And, I know you had an hour or more set aside for this interview, but you need to end it now. I’m dead serious. There is no reason to explore any further because these are absolute deal-breakers in my opinion.

It’s your decision, of course. But I’m confident that if you can overcome the barrier of awkwardness that you’ll agree with me. Let’s take a look.

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