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How to hire exceptional people each and every time

6/16/2014, 11:53 a.m.
Greg Smith, photo courtesy of Greg Smith

The most important aspect of any business is recruiting, selecting, and retaining top people. Research shows those organizations that spend more time recruiting high-caliber people earn 22 percent higher return to shareholders than their industry peers. However, most employers do a miserable job selecting people.

Ponder for a moment the last person you hired. After you selected them, did they work out as intended? Or did they turn into somebody totally unlike what you thought when you interviewed them?

The most important aspect of any business is recruiting, selecting, and retaining top people. Research shows those organizations that spend more time recruiting high-caliber people will earn a 22 percent higher return for shareholders than their industry peers.

However, most employers do a miserable job selecting people. Many companies rely on outdated and ineffective interviewing and hiring techniques. This critical responsibility sometimes gets the least emphasis.

Hiring and interviewing is both art and science. Refusing to improve this vital process will almost always guarantee you will be spending money and time hiring the wrong people. Here are several reasons why traditional techniques are inadequate:

• The majority of applicants “exaggerate” to get a job

• Most hiring decisions are made by intuition during the first few minutes of the interview

• Two out of three hires prove to be a bad fit within the first year on the job

• Most interviewers are not properly trained and they do not like to interview applicants

• Excellent employees are misplaced and grow frustrated in jobs where they are unable to utilize their strengths

Hire the best and avoid the rest. Cisco CEO John Chambers said, “A world-class engineer with five peers can out produce 200 regular engineers.” Instead of waiting for people to apply for jobs, top organizations spend more time looking for high-caliber people. An effective selection and interviewing process follows these five steps:

Step 1 – Prepare. Prior to the interview make sure you understand the key elements of the job. Develop a simple outline that covers the job duties. Possibly work with the incumbent or people familiar with the various responsibilities to understand what the job is about. Screen the resumes and applications to gain information for the interview. Standardize and prepare the questions you will ask each applicant.

Step 2 — Purpose. Skilled and talented people have more choices and job opportunities to choose from. The interviewer forms the applicant’s first impression of the company. Not only are you trying to determine the best applicant, but you also have to convince the applicant this is the best place for them to work.

Step 3 — Performance. Identify the knowledge, attributes, and skills the applicant needs for success. If the job requires special education or licensing, be sure to include it on your list. Identify the top seven attributes or competencies the job requires and structure the interview accordingly. Some of these attributes might include:

• What authority the person has to discipline, hire, and/or fire others and establish performance objectives