How to Hire the Right Person

Whether you’re a fledgling entrepreneur, an established small-business owner or the head of a HR department at a major corporation, hiring is one of the most critical decisions you can make. Having the right people on board literally makes or breaks your company. You need new hires who are intelligent, flexible, agile, knowledgeable, willing to learn and ready to fit into your organization; startups in particular need an effective, efficient crew to get things done.

The wrong hire not only slows down your company’s productivity, but also costs you money; it costs several thousand dollars in both personnel and overhead to hire someone, so every time you hire the wrong person and have to rehire the position, you pay that cost twice.

Here are the steps to take to make sure your next hire is the right person for the job, not the wrong one:

Get specific about your job description

Hiring the right person starts with your job ad. Take the time to think critically about the duties of the job. What is a typical day in the life of this new employee? Is this role designed to provide administrative support, generate new business, create and develop ideas or all of the above? What technological skills does this employee need to have? When you’re writing your job ad, the more specific you can be about the job description, the better candidate pool you’re going to receive.

Know how to sort resumes

You are likely to get several hundred resumes for every open job position. Of these resumes, about 50 percent will be irrelevant for one reason or another; underqualified, overqualified, lacking industry experience or otherwise unrelated to the job offered. That still leaves between 100-200 resumes from candidates who can potentially do your job. How do you sort these candidates?

One of the best ways to do the initial sort is to run a keyword search through one of the many popular applicant tracking software systems. Search candidates’ resumes for words like “customer service,” “Adobe Photoshop” or anything related to your job description. Eliminate resumes which do not include these words.

At this point you probably have 40 to 50 resumes left over. Like it or not, you’re going to have to read them all. However, you can probably spend as little as 20 seconds on most of these resumes, since you’re essentially scanning for personality: Is this candidate formal or casual? Highly educated or self-taught? Has the candidate had many different jobs, or only one or two? At this point you’re combining these clues with your gut reactions, looking for around 10 candidates you find interesting.

Ask the right interview questions

During the interview, you’re looking for three things:

  1. Can this person perform the skills required of the job?
  2. Can this person solve problems?
  3. Can this person fit into our company culture?

Make sure everything you ask during the interview relates to one of these key questions. Don’t bother with silly questions like “what kind of animal would you be” and don’t ask stereotypical questions about greatest weaknesses. Instead, focus on getting the information you need.

Start off with a few questions about the candidate’s background and skills. Listen to make sure the candidate’s answers match what your company needs. Then ask how the candidate has solved a problem in the past, whether with an irate customer, two angry coworkers or a project that has crept past deadline. If the candidate doesn’t answer in a way that indicates that he or she knows how to take appropriate action to solve a problem, don’t invite that candidate back for a second interview. As for the small talk at the beginning and end of the interview? That’s about company culture. Does the candidate sound like a person you’d like to have in the office at the end of the day?

Most interview guides suggest that you take notes during the interview, but if you’re interviewing multiple candidates and sharing those results with a large network of peers and supervisors, interview transcription services could be a faster, more efficient solution. Make sure your candidates agree to being recorded. Often, placing a small tape recorder in the center of the interview table is enough to make the message clear.

At this point, and after reviewing the candidates with other people in the department, you probably have two or three really solid options. If the references check out, make an offer to the candidate who fits best into your company culture while simultaneously having the skills needed to rock the workload. If the candidate turns the offer down, offer the job to a second or third choice. Because you’ve done your research and asked the right questions, each of these candidates is likely to be a right person for your job.

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Contribution made by Becky W.

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