Lesson One: Hire to Specific Performance Expectations
The process to hire top talent requires a recruitment definition based
on specifically defined performance expectations for the person required. Many
companies use job descriptions to define their hiring requirements.
Unfortunately job descriptions list duties and responsibilities, activities in
which to indulge. A more useful approach to defining a hiring requirement
begins with identifying the results you expect the new hire to achieve during
the first year. Then the selection process is focused on how the candidate will
achieve results, or performance, rather than just the duties or activities of a
Lesson Two: Implement a Pro-Active Recruitment Strategy.
A continuous flow of candidate prospects means looking for great
additions to staff - even when there is not an immediate need. This current
labor market is the perfect time. Every manager should be made accountable for
recruitment as part of his or her performance measurement, and consequently, as
a part of their bonus consideration. Candidate sources are everywhere. People
at trade shows, conferences, and meetings, as well as other executives, like competitors,
and customers, should all be looked on as potential employees. Even social
events become grounds for recruiting
Crack the Interview Façade.
People usually put up a front when being interviewed. During the
interview one needs to get behind this façade. To do this, treat the interview
as a narration of a person’s life and accomplishments. Start the interview from
a candidate’s early career and follow it to current times. Note candidate success
patterns and relate them to the requirements as defined by performance
Interviewing is a skill which can be learned. Good interviewing starts
with active listening. Show interest in what the candidate is saying. Take
notes. Do a lot of nodding to encourage more discussion. Ask for examples.
Problem solving is a good form of getting behind the façade. Keep probing, by
asking the so-called editorials, like who, what, when, where, why and how. This
will provide a much clearer picture of the candidate’s past contribution and performance
Past performance is the best predictor of future performance. Make sure
there is an understanding of specifically what the candidate has personally
accomplished, how he or she thinks, and how the candidate’s style would fit
with the company’s culture
Lesson Four: Don’t be Fooled by the Halo
Super star performance is not always
transferable. Don’t assume outstanding performance by a candidate in one
particular facet of his or her job will apply to the performance expected of the
candidate in a different position. Skills and experience are not always
transferable from one position to another or from one company culture to another.
For example, the skills a sales person has that have made him or her very
successful in a direct sales position are quite different than the skills
required to be a sales manager. Or, a candidate who has been a leader in a
large corporation may not have the attributes to lead a small entrepreneurial
The “Halo Effect” may be awe striking, but
don’t let it over shadow requirements.
Lesson Five: Don’t Shortcut the Hiring
When a hiring requirement presents itself,
the path of least resistance is to find someone like the person who previously
occupied that position. However,
business is dynamic, and so are the requirements of individuals to be
successful. Performance goals change. Thus, looking for someone to fill a
position without considering targeted performance can result in hiring the
Following all the steps of a thorough hiring
process reduces the inherent risk in making a hire. It helps a hiring manager
make a more objective and predictable selection.
Lesson Six: Make Intuition Work.
Intuition can play an important part in the
hiring decision. Don’t ignore intuitive feelings. They are generally based on a
reaction from some event or situation in the past that triggers a notion about
the candidate. Could be as complicated as a lack of trust in what the candidate
said. Or it could be as simple as thinking this person will not be fun to work
with. When in doubt, check it out.
Lesson Seven: Check One More Reference
Reference checking is a way of
ensuring that the candidate’s skills and capabilities, as portrayed during the
interview, are what he or she really can deliver. After interviewing a
candidate, certain tentative conclusions are drawn about expected performance.
Strengths, shortcomings, work behavior style and other concerns need
clarification or amplification. References should verify conclusions, answer
any concerns or stimulate further questions to ask the candidate in a follow-up
Reference contacts needs to go beyond just
the people the candidate provided. Although interview probing techniques are
used in speaking with references, it should be assumed that the names given by
the candidate have been “primed” to give a glowing report. Consequentially,
additional reference names need to be contacted; names discovered during the
reference checking process. Ask each reference person for additional people who
could provide more insight into the candidate’s capabilities.
Implementing and sticking to these lessons will lead to sound hiring
decisions. Take advantage of this enormous, talented labor pool today to build
a winning team.