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3 Steps You Must Take To Hire Better People

3 Steps You Must Take To Hire Better People

Everywhere I look I seem to find classes, ebooks, webinars, career counselors and many other resources aimed at teaching job seekers how to interview more effectively. But precious few hiring managers have been adequately trained for recruiting and interviewing even though it’s one of the most critical aspects of leadership. For instance, who taught you how to interview people? HR? Corporate training? No one? One of your previous bosses? Who taught your boss how to interview? HR? Corporate training? No one? One of their previous bosses?  Oh sure, you’ve probably learned how to interrogate people well enough. In fact, you may be able to skillfully disect a resume and ask all the appropriate behavioral interview questions with the best of them. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg if you want, or worse yet — NEED, the right people by your side to achieve your aggressive goals. The harsh reality is that we are exiting the greated company-driven market and entering the greatest candidate-driven market since the Depression so the War for Talent is on!

So here are 3 steps you must take to hire better people in this new market.

  1. Identify the candidate’s key motivating drivers and make certain they fall in line with what will contribute the most to your overall success. I’m not talking about the level of their skill sets or the breadth of their relationships because I’ve seen too many hiring executives get burned in the past when too much attention was focused on what the candidate knew or what they had done in the past rather than what the candidate wants to do in the future.
    When I talk to managers about this I try to relate it to the FINRA disclaimer required on every mutual fund: “Past results do not guarantee future performance.”  It’s the same with candidates. It’s important not to overweight a candidate’s past performance. Here’s a case in point; I recruited a wholesaler one time who had been a rock star at opening new regions for his past companies. But he confided in me that he was burned out and would love to work for American Funds, LOL. A few years ago a job as American Funds wholesalers was a cake walk comparatively speaking. Of course, my client needed someone hungry enough to work hard to grind out market share in this crowded territory so I took a pass on him. A few months after my original conversation I watched that candidate pursue an opportunity (through another recruiter) with a company, again in expansion mode, and offering a too-good-to-pass-up upfront guarantee. The candidate looked great on paper and I’m sure he sounded terrific in the interview if most of the time was spent discussing his past accomplishments. But as expected, a year after taking this new role, he was way below his numbers because he stalled after he covered the low hanging fruit of his prior relationships. Lesson: Just because someone has performed at a high level in the past doesn’t mean they want to continue doing the same activities.
    Hire a person who has the skills and they’ll take your paycheck. Hire the person whose motivations are in line with your mission, they’ll give you their blood and sweat. 
  2. Streamline your hiring process. Two things are certain in the game of talent acquisition: 1) the longer a manager keeps good candidates waiting, the smaller their chances are for actually converting the candidate and 2) the better the candidates the less likely they are to wait. Candidates should only be interviewed face-to-face (especially if travel is involved) when an offer can be made within ten days. The search and interviewing process will commence once a manager has full budget approval, upper management’s approval, full understanding of all key constituents’ scheduling availability as well as a clear start-date for the position. Nothing can be more frustrating for a candidate to move through a 3-part interview process only to have the process stall at the 11th hour.
    The interviewing process can also be streamlined by eliminating less important screeners. Often times a company will bring team leaders into the interviewing process as a way of promoting the organization’s capabilities. Although this might be a positive factor, the risk of prolonging the process and over-selling the opportunity is too great.  The more days, weeks, and months that pass from the start of a search, the more likely a company is to lose talent to a faster-moving competitor. If committing to a full-time hire is delayed then a company could consider utilizing a recruitment partner for contract-to-hire. This allows a firm to not only reduce the culture fit risk and align with quarterly or yearly full-time openings, but it also allows for the opportunity to pull outstanding talent off the market faster than the competition.
  3. Talk to your best salesperson or take a sales course. It’s odd but I’m not sure why we think interviewing is different than selling because it is NOT. As I mentioned earler, the war for talent is raging so hiring managers must be mindful of the competition. Candidates have more options today than they ever had so selling is vital. (Hey, sales managers! I’m talking to you too unfortunately.) Okay, maybe not you personally but I bet you know sales managers who handle their interviews with candidates completely differently than they do a prospective customer. Most managers, sales managers included, will go long and hard to tell an attractive candidate why the opportunity they’re offiering is so wonderful. Yet they rarely, if ever, properly probe what’s important to the candidate.
    Here’s something to keep in mind. Interviewing at its core is comprised of only two questions: you want to know why you should hire the person across the desk from you and the candidate wants to know why they should work for you. That’s it! And granted, it’s definitely a delicate balance. But if you don’t adequately answer the candidate’s non-verbalized question before they leave then it won’t matter if you found someone you want to pursue; they’ll likely leave with a less than excited impression. This is raw needs-based sales. So while you’re probing for answers to your question (“why should I hire this candidate?”), find out what’s important to the candidate. There are actually many strategies available to get at the root of this answer so I encourage you to speak with your best sales people to see how they uncover hot buttons and needs of their new prospects.

I have seen this trifecta greatly improve a manager’s ability to hire better talent. But I would love to hear your interviewing experiences as well. Email me at and let me know what you’ve learned through the years.

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