Back to Basics - The Core Principles of Smart Hiring

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Back to Basics - The Core Principles of Smart Hiring
January 7, 2020 at 10:13:13 AM EST   By Mike Russiello

Hiring can make or break a business over the long term. That's because people are the lifeblood of any organization.

A wise person once said that building a company with the wrong people is like cooking a meal with rotten vegetables and cheap ingredients. Even if you do everything else right, it just won't matter.

Have you ever wondered how top chefs consistently procure the best ingredients? They would say they have a formula developed over many years, which they follow religiously. They know their success depends on it.

Similarly, it's important for managers to have a reliable formula for hiring, and to follow it consistently. Their success depends on it as well.

Ask yourself: Does my business have a repeatable and reliable process for hiring? Do we actually use that process? Can the process be improved, even a little bit?

Whether your organization is large or small, or whether you are creating a new process or tweaking an existing one, these principles should guide your thinking:

Core Hiring Principles

  1. Know what you are looking for. Understand the key activities and responsibilities of the job before you start looking to fill it. Ensure you have a set of minimum qualifications that can distinguish candidates from applicants.
  2. Plan your process. Map out your selection process before you begin to seek applicants. How will you screen for minimum quals? What will you ask during interviews? What assessments will you use? What other data will you collect?
  3. Cast a wide net. Any hiring process is a numbers game. The more qualified candidates you evaluate, the higher the chances that you will pick a great one. I like to say that you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Note that this applies even more when the labor market is tight, as it is right now.
  4. Only evaluate qualified applicants. Establish a process to eliminate applicants who do not meet your minimum qualifications.
  5. Collect multiple data points on each candidate. Collect as much information as you can about each candidate. Multiple interviews, multiple interviewers, assessments, reference checks, work samples are all good examples.
  6. Focus on performance, fit, and tenure. These are the three drivers for evaluating a hire. Can they do the job well and does their history indicate they will do it well? Will they get along with your team and promote your culture? Finally, will they stay onboard long enough to be worth the onboarding and training expense?
  7. Be patient and methodical. Plan your interviews and other selection activities ahead of time. Be consistent and stick to your plan. Then decide only after all information is available.
  8. Evaluate your success objectively and improve with each round. Track the actual performance of your new hires over time. If sufficient data is available, perform local validity studies to evaluate the effectiveness of each stage of the hiring process and adjust is appropriate.

As a leader / innovator in the pre-employment selection business for more than 20 years, I have worked with literally thousands of organizations to help them improve their hiring processes. One thing I have learned is that when it comes to defining a hiring process for your organization, size doesn't matter. The same principles apply.

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