Smart Hiring: 7 Best Practices for Selecting Top Talent

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    Many managers make poor staffing decisions. By all accounts their batting average is no better than .333. At most, one-third of such decisions turn out right; one-third minimally effective; and one-third outright failures. In no other area of management would we put up with such miserable performance.” – Peter Drucker, management icon.

    I recently gave a presentation to a group of business and community leaders on how to select talent to grow their organization. Given the expense associated with recruiting top performers and the high cost of making poor choices, you would think that those responsible for hiring would follow a systematic process that results in high quality hiring.

    Yet, I am continually amazed, when reviewing staffing practices, how frequently I find in companies the lack of workforce planning, inconsistent procedures, ineffective interviewing, indecision or a quick decision based on gut feel rather than good data, etc.

    Here are seven best practices for selecting top talent.

    1. Don’t shoot from the hip.
      Have a well-thought-out recruitment and selection process in place. Prepare in advance for interviews. Take hiring seriously.
    2. Identify the interview team.
      Make sure you have the right people to evaluate applicants’ qualifications and also they’ve been trained on interviewing techniques. Not all supervisors are great interviewers.
    3. Develop a role expectation or job description.
      It’s important to have everyone on the same page about what is required. If one person thinks a certain personality type is needed while another thinks differently, then there will be problems deciding whom is the best applicant.
    4. Ask open-ended questions based on the position requirements.
      It’s usually not very helpful to ask candidates “Can you do x?” Most likely they’ll say yes because they think they can. Remember, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Instead, ask something like, “Tell me how you handled dealing with x?” See Behavioral Interviewing: Hire the Right Person for the Job.
    5. Decide who will ask the candidate what questions.
      It’s usually best to divide the questions based on interviewer’s area of expertise. For example, let finance people ask the finance questions.
    6. Take notes and be consistent.
      I guarantee that you will either forget what the first interviewee said or mix his/her responses with subsequent interviewees if you don’t take notes. Ask each applicant the same questions so that you can compare answers and more accurately compare them. This may save you discrimination headaches.
    7. Prepare a scorecard.
      Develop a rating system to analyze and compare each applicant. Decide on the criteria you will use to rate each applicant. Also decide on how you will decide – majority vote, consensus or the manager will have final say.

    Management Success Tip:

    The purpose of any hiring process is to discriminate (albeit fairly) among applicants. You must be able to differentiate those who will perform well from those who will not. Your goal is to select the right people, with the right skills, for the right jobs and at the right time. You can probably teach a turkey to climb a tree—but it is easier to hire a squirrel. Also see The Top Five Hiring Mistakes.

    Readers, have you ever hired turkeys rather than squirrels? If so, let me know about it. What were your lessons learned?

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?