3 Ways to Hire Based on More Than a Gut Feeling

3 Ways to Hire Based on More Than a Gut Feeling

You are looking to hire, but you keep meeting duds. Their qualifications seem good on paper, but you can’t seem to click with any of them. They just don’t have that spark. How are you supposed to spend all day with someone who just seems…a little boring?

Enter Tim. Tim is a referral from an ex-coworker’s cousin. He is everything you want in an employee and a friend. He went to the same college as you, he really gets your sense of humor, and things just seem so easy with Tim. He doesn’t have a ton of experience, but you can train him! You know he is the right fit, even without going through all those interview questions you prepared for the other candidates. You didn’t have him do the skills assessment, and the personality profile you coveted doesn’t seem so important now. No need to check references, because he was a referral (you already know people love him). You offer him the job, because your gut is telling you it’s the right thing to do.

Your gut may not have steered you wrong in the past with other business decisions. However, it is important to remember that you are not an expert hiring manager, especially if this is your first hire! Your gut is inexperienced in this arena. It cannot be the sole guide for screening candidates. Remember, the interview process is about collecting data points and assessing them to see if a candidate is the right fit for your firm. You need to have all of the information in front of you before listening to your gut’s emotional input. Someone like Tim may seem perfect, but hiring him without proper vetting could be a huge mistake.

For example, does Tim have the ability and drive to pass his Series 7 or 63? Even if he has a good educational background, that doesn’t mean he is dedicated enough to put in the study time needed to pass. Does he have experience learning new technology, a new industry? What about training: how much time will you need to dedicate to training Tim and what will that mean to your business? Will he get along with your team and respect them? These questions must be answered before extending an offer.

Follow these steps to make sure you do not make a rash decision that will cost you time, money, and possibly even client relationships.

Step 1: Start with the job description

Successful hiring starts with the job description. Build your task list by thinking about the things you do not like to do, are not very good at doing, or are functions that your business needs help with. If you hire the right individual, these items will no longer be on your to-do list! When reviewing applicants, compare them against this description. Do they have the basic skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to positively affect your firm? Focus on the essentials of the job, and meet with candidates who have the experience to perform the responsibilities.

Step 2: Stick to the plan

During the interview, do not let your gut tell you to skip questions. You should have a well-defined plan for what you want to get out of the interview, and do not deviate. Again, making a successful hire is dependent on collecting a set of data points and using them to make the best possible decision. You wouldn’t pick an investment for a client based on your gut, would you? Therefore, if you happen to find a Tim (who could be your future best friend), you still need to complete the full interview process.

Here are some general situational questions you should always ask:

  • What is the accomplishment you are most proud of and why?
  • What do you do if you disagree with your boss?
  • Where would you like to be with your career in 3 to 5 years?
  • What are the three most important criteria to you in your next position?
  • What would your current/former manager say about you?
     

In addition to these, ask specific questions regarding the role and the responsibilities. In the Tim example, he did not have a lot of exposure to the financial services industry. Can he show in his previous work experience a time when he learned a new computer system and mastered it? Does he have 2 or 3 examples of when he went above and beyond for a customer? Does he have success stories demonstrating his multi-tasking abilities? If you are satisfied with the answers, complete the rest of your interview process.

If you have other members on your team, decide who else should be involved in the hiring process. Finding the right hire is also about the candidate’s DNA matching your office DNA. Others in the office can help you assess this and ensure that the candidate will add to the synergy in the office, not deteriorate it.

Some advisors also use a personality profile or skills assessment, and references should always be checked. If the results are not what you hoped for, use them as data points to decide if you can and/or want to manage this individual, given what you found out. However, no one is perfect; remember that the overall data is more important than one concerning result.

Step 3: Evaluate why they are the best fit for the job

The Tim interview went well because you were excited to meet someone you liked as a friend. The bonding overshadowed the rest of the interview process. Remember, you aren’t looking for a mini-me! You are looking for a good employee. Review all of the information you learned about them, and take a hard look at anything that worried you. Be open to hiring employees who have different strengths than you; this could mean they have different personalities. If you are extroverted and love meeting with new clients, consider hiring someone who is more introverted, calculated, and operationally-minded. He or she could bring a degree of organization and strategy to your practice that you had not considered.

Listen to your gut, but don’t obey it

If the decision to hire someone is made just because you two get along, this is probably not going to work out. Do not lose sight as to why you needed to hire someone in the first place. If you can joke around but find out you cannot trust your new hire to get things done, the relationship will not last long. They must be capable of completing the tasks you need help with. Otherwise, they will be a drain on you and your resources. Finding the right employee is about a full assessment of skills, qualifications, personality, and their long-term goals. When these match up and your gut can quietly agree, you have found your future employee!

Amy Kizer
Human Capital
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Amy Kizer is Managing Partner of TalentLink Solutions, which was created because of the challenges financial advisors face with defining, identifying, retaining and manag ... Click for full bio

Advisors Play a Critical Role in Educating Overwhelmed Clients About What They Will Need to Retire

Advisors Play a Critical Role in Educating Overwhelmed Clients About What They Will Need to Retire

When it comes to getting information about retirement planning, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.


At its best, there is information, calculators and products available at the click of a mouse. At its worst, the information overload has created mental gridlock for many clients about what they need to do to plan for their inevitable futures.

Consider these results from a survey of 1,300 investors and 400 financial professionals conducted by Jackson National Life Insurance Co. and the Insured Retirement Institute that are prime evidence of the “failure to plan” crisis in America:

  • 47 percent of consumers over age 65 said Social Security is their most significant source of income;
  • Nearly four in ten consumers aged 25-to-34 years believe Social Security will provide them with sufficient income during retirement; and
  • Nearly one-third of advisors report having three or more clients exhaust their investable assets, most often due to overspending or higher-than-expected medical costs in retirement.
     

If ever there was a time to educate consumers, it is now, a moment when so many need not just information, but a real plan to pay for their retirement. Consider the implications of the decline of the defined benefit pension plan that covered 28 percent of private workers in 1980 but by 2014 was held by only to two percent. To supplement their Social Security benefits, they are confronted with options from an array of products that include IRAs (Roth and SEP), 401ks, annuities and life insurance.

The Jackson National survey showed how misunderstood these products are. For instance, the survey found that less than half of the respondents understood that annuities can provide guaranteed lifetime income. Almost the same amount believed that IRAs come with guarantees and 26 percent thought mutual funds provided guaranteed income.

With so few workers able to access guaranteed income beyond Social Security in retirement, finding ways to create guaranteed income are becoming critical. To confirm that, the survey found that 90 percent of the respondents are interested in guaranteed incomes. Given the state of most of the respondents’ retirement funds, there is a disconnect here with major implications for our industry and the clients we serve.

Related: The Answer to Your Clients' Long-Term Care May Be Their Life Insurance

Annuities and life insurance stand out as products that can fill this need. And, when advisors describe their attributes, consumers express strong interest in them. In the case of annuities, this is a major issue: the survey found that almost half of their clients considered annuities to be too expensive and six in ten had negative perceptions of them as an investment. They only changed their minds when they didn’t know the investment being described was an annuity.

In life insurance, it’s another difficult story. The 2016 Conning Life Settlements, Secondary Annuities, and Structured Settlements report estimated that on an annual basis $185 billion of death benefits owned by seniors will likely lapse or surrender without owners considering their options that can include the secondary market that can give them cash when they need it. We have found many seniors who have been paying life insurance premiums for years, but have no idea how it can be used to pay for their post-retirement needs.

Clearly, there is a need for our industry to educate our clients about the products they are considering and what their end-results will be. Failing to help them understand their options in a retirement that cannot solely depend on Social Security will only result in a lot of angry clients looking for someone to blame.

Chris Orestis
Investing in Life
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Chris Orestis, Executive Vice President of GWG Life (www.gwglife.com), is an over 20-year veteran of the insurance and long-term care industries and is nationally recognized a ... Click for full bio