The Right Fit Makes the Difference: Ten Steps to Better Hiring

“Why do we have such a hard time getting on the same page? We rarely agree on who to hire when we have a new position, and from day one it seems as if only half of us are invested in a new hire’s success. It’s just sad. We could do better. We need to do better.”

“I don’t understand what happened. He interviewed so well. But it’s six months later, and it’s obvious. He’s not a good fit.”

When bad hiring happens, everyone suffers.

Finding the right person for a position is part art and part science. While some people certainly have gift for finding good people, everyone can improve their success rate by following a methodical step-by-step process.

Step One:

Know what you want.

First and foremost, it’s important to envision what work will look like with a new person. What will he or she do? How do you envision interactions looking and sounding? What do you expect in terms of quality and quantity of work? What temperament do you envision working best? Is the work basically the same each day? If this person is going to interact with people other than you, who are they and what do they want from a new hire? Knowing what you want is essential.

Step Two:

Create a robust job description.

Once you are clear about the kind of person you want to hire, it’s time to put pen to paper and craft a job description. When you list the duties the person will perform, if you begin each of your sentences with a verb and write in everyday English, you’ll be well on your way to solidifying your expectations.

Step Three:

Think about what it’s going to take for someone to be successful.

Experience and education are essential to success in some jobs, and for others, they’re not. What you require can widen or narrow your applicant pool — potentially in ways that could hurt your chances of finding the right person. Think long and hard about what’s essential before moving to the next step.

Step Four:

Create a strong job ad.

Just as candidates are selling themselves, you are selling your company and the position you are filling. An ad is your opportunity to attract talent. Spend time creating strong job title, telling your organization’s story and briefly describing your essential requirements. If you have a great location, solid benefits or some other selling point, include that information, too. Your ad should quickly paint a robust picture of why you’re great, what you’re looking for and why they should want to work with you.

Step Five:

Promote your position.

The type of job you want to fill should dictate where you’ll promote it. Many options exist. Regardless of which you choose, it’s important to have a plan and to understand how each promotional avenue works.

Step Six:

Craft your screening questions.

In tandem with crafting your ad and promoting your position, you’ll need to develop your questions for screening candidates and interviewing those with whom you eventually choose to meet. This step is essential for several reasons. First, it helps you follow a repeatable process. Second, it helps those who interview to ask relevant and legal questions. Finally, it ensures you are fair and can gather answers you can compare with relative ease.

Step Seven:

Evaluate candidates and set a phone screening schedule.

Once your job closes, it’s time to review the qualifications of those who met your position’s criteria and set a screening schedule. Depending on the number of responses you get, you may choose to screen everyone or rank candidates and screen the top group. Either way, you’ll want to talk to applicants before you bring them in to meet in person. Phone interviews offer several benefits. They allow you to get an initial impression of a candidate without having people’s physical appearance influence your thinking. They are also an efficient way to address some basic questions.

Step Eight:

Determine who you will invite to interview in person, and prepare your interviewing team.

After you’ve concluded your screening process, it’s time to prepare your interviewing team and invite candidates in. Getting ready is essential. Both you and the prospective employees are auditioning. Your interviewing team needs to be just that, a team. You should discuss the welcoming process, the interviewing order, the questions each person will ask and how you will close your meetings with candidates and send them on their way. Leave little up to chance. You are on stage. Depending on the position you are filling, you may decide to conduct more than one round of interviews. Regardless of what you choose, you must have a plan.

Step Nine:

Gather feedback, and rank the candidates.

When you’ve finished interviewing people, it’s time to rank them. Because you’ve asked each person the same questions, this should be easier than it could be if you hadn’t.

If you find your team disagrees, think before you make an offer. If none of the candidates is exactly right, again, think before you make an offer. The wrong person now is rarely as good as the right person a little later.

Step Ten:

Make your offer.

Assuming there are no obvious roadblocks, it’s time to make an offer. Be excited when you do, and recognize this is only the first step in effectively integrating an employee into the fabric of your organization.

So there you have it. Ten steps can make all the difference. Great hiring is about good discipline and patience. The better you are at establishing and following a strong inclusive process, the stronger your results will be. Now go find that candidate!

Kate Zabriskie

KATE ZABRISKIE is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit: www.businesstrainingworks.com