What a Great Time to be Hiring!

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 job.

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

Lesson Three: 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 expectations.

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 potential.

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 Effect.

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 organization.

The “Halo Effect” may be awe striking, but don’t let it over shadow requirements.

Lesson Five: Don’t Shortcut the Hiring Process.

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 wrong candidate.

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 interview.

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.


Richard J. Pinsker, CMC, FIMC, is President of Pinsker and company, www.pinskerandco.com, an executive selection consulting firm. He coaches executives on how to hire people who exceeds expectations, and conducts retained search enragements for board members, presidents and CEOs, and the full executive team.

He is the author of "Seven Steps to a Rewarding Transitional Career,"  "Hiring Winners," and "Seven Rules for Hiring Extraordinary Talent." A recognized professional...

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