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Are You Hiring the Best Employees or Your Future Problems?


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As the economic recovery begins to gain traction, employers – both big and small – will be in the hunt for new talent at all levels within their companies, up to and including the executive suite. The question is, will they hire the best people or future problems?

When hiring at any level, an employer – before they even sit opposite a prospective job candidate – should have the following information completed:

  • An updated and complete position description that accurately describes the “purpose” of the position, i.e., the primary role the incumbent performs and how the position “fits in” to the unit’s operations.
  • An accurate listing of the key tasks (probably no more than 10).
  • An accurate description of the skills and knowledge needed for the incumbent to perform the tasks in a consistent and satisfactory manner.
  • An accurate description of the criteria for evaluation for the position, i.e., how performance will be measured.
  • A preliminary list of questions they will ask a candidate to determine how the candidate measures up versus the job requirements. Additional questions will need to be developed once the hiring manager has an actual applicant to consider.
  • Finally, they will need a method and a tool to properly evaluate the answers a candidate will offer to the questions asked. The need for this process is critical when more than one person will interview the candidate.
  • In some cases, an employer will use an assessment tool to evaluate the applicant. There are some great tools on the market. Most will measure the candidate to the requirements of your open position. Some assessments will even give you additional questions to ask the candidate based on the answers to the questions asked in the assessment.

So, with all of the above completed and on hand, the hiring manager is ready to interview…or are they? All of this critical preparation can go right out the window if the hiring manager doesn’t approach or see the interview process as probably the most important task they are asked to perform. They are bringing in resources (your team) – expensive ones – to help the company achieve its mission and goals. These “resources” interact with your customers who pay you! When your team delivers good or better service on a consistent basis you’ve got a real good chance to succeed. If the opposite occurs – well, you know – it gets ugly and it happens pretty fast.

Yet, despite the broad impact the wrong hires can have on a company, many hiring managers approach the interview as an afterthought or“something they have to do”. How many times have you seen a hiring manager go from a meeting right into the interview or finish a call as they sit at their desk to meet the applicant for the very first time! Here’s my favorite: they look at the candidate’s application for the first time, right after they sit down to meet the individual. To make matters worse, they usually have no idea what questions they will ask or why they are asking them. Last but not least, they talk too much in the interview and never listen to what the candidate is saying (or not saying). They are winging it, which is probably their standard modus operandi! “Winging it” when hiring is the best way to create a future disaster!

Any hiring manager needs to take the time to prepare for the interview using the information previously shared. Under normal circumstances, it might take 15 to 30 minutes—a timeframe that is insignificant when you consider the cost in time and money associated with hiring the wrong candidate, a future problem.

Hiring new employees into a company has a fair amount of risk associated with it. With preparation before the interview, that risk is reduced. It can be reduced even more by following a professional and comprehensive approach during the interview. Finally, the risk can be made acceptable (never zero) with a consistent and logical approach to assessing the candidate to arrive at the correct “hire / no hire” decision. Best employee or future problem; mediocre team or great performers; average company or superior company – it’s your choice and it starts with the hiring process. Go ahead, keep winging it!

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