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Finding and Hiring the right employees

As a leader, every action your employees take is a direct reflection on YOU. No matter how talented and dynamic you are personally, your business is only as great as your weakest employee. I think we can agree that firing someone is the absolute worst part of any leader's responsibilities. Some firings are performance based. But the vast majority of firings can be attributed to character issues. Things like mistreating fellow coworkers, late nights leading into late mornings, short-cutting tasks only to have that laziness come back to negatively affect the whole team. The worst one is the know-it-all who is sure he/she can do everyone's job better than others can, which constantly demoralizes the rest of the team. Think of some more character firings, the list is long! Having to fire an employee with exceptional character however, I think you will agree, is rare. Ask yourself these questions about the people you currently lead.


  1. Does this person represent your company's values and goals as well as you do yourself?

  2. Is this person a good team member, willing to step up for a coworker when needed?

  3. Does this person represent your company well outside of the office?

  4. Is this person more interested in personal accolades or team goals?

  5. How does this person affect others in the company?

  6. How well does this person produce results?

  7. Does this person meet the expectations you had at the point of hire?

Each employee in your charge should have a positive score on each of these questions. A negative score on any one of these questions is unacceptable and the employee should be disqualified as a team member. These questions address the core character of the individual. Core character traits cannot be trained out of the person. Habits, training, and knowledge to increase performance are easily instilled into employees with positive answers to these questions. That leads to a positive answer to question #7 at a later date. When you interview prospective candidates, how much time do you spend evaluating their character traits? Do you use cookie cutter techniques of interviewing instead? Degrees, previous work history, experience? Through the school of hard knocks, I've found that candidates that value a company-first winning team attitude ALWAYS outperform the candidates with a great resume'and all of the proper degrees. Unless you catch someone very early in their career, candidates with the entire package are rare.


Choosing the candidate that can be molded into your company's culture may take more effort on your part up front, but the long term reward of having an employee who appreciates the time you took to show them the road map to success is more than worth it. In business we are always quantifying our return on investment in terms of profit. With employees, the time you invest in them empowers them to give all they have in themselves back to you. Since having to fire a person with great character is so rare,by focusing your interview process on the character of the candidate you are essentially firing before you hire. Writing a company hiring policy is step one to hiring the right candidate. This policy should consist of a few rules for the interview process that are mandatory. Short cutting your hiring process in the interview stage will only cost you more time later, after the candidate is hired, which is the point of no return. Consider the hiring process a series of "dates". People always know more about the other person after the third date than the first date. Never hire anyone before having at least three interviews. Always read the candidate's entire resume' before you meet with them face to face. This exhibits to the prospective candidate that you place importance on meeting with them because you took the time to prepare for your meeting. The candidate will immediately respect you because caring enough to be prepared for them means that you take the hiring process seriously.


In the first interview, ask broad, open ended questions. These types of questions lead to long answers and can give you a good insight into the personality of the candidate. Examples of broad, open ended questions are:

At ABC Products who was your favorite coworker and why?

Who was your least favorite coworker and why?

What were your main responsibilities?

Which duties did you enjoy the most and why?

Which duties did you like the least and why?

What is your fondest memory of working at ABC Products and why?

What is your least fond memory of working at ABC Products and why?

If you notice a pattern, good for you! These types of questions can be asked about ANY topic, with the purpose being to keeping the candidate talking! Remember, this is your first date. If you feel as though this candidate is worthy of a second interview, give them the opportunity to ask you a few questions. A lot can be learned about a candidate by the questions they ask. I always cross my fingers and hope the candidate takes the opportunity to ask questions about the company. The candidates that ask insightful questions in the first interview are generally candidates that are looking for a career, not just a job. Be prepared, however, for normal questions about salary, vacation, and benefits. Answer those questions like this:

We are not quite to the point of talking specifically about those items, but let me say this. We are a proud company, serious about the success of not just our company, but our family of employees also. We expect top performance from our people, and in return we realize the need to perform at a high level for our people.

At this point, make a decision on if you would like a second interview with this candidate. If the answer is yes, schedule the time now. Let the candidate know that you are enthusiastically looking forward to your next visit!

And then...........


Sharpen Your Axe offers a few services to assist you in finding, hiring, and retaining the right employees! We can provide a written process tailor made for your company, blueprinting how to find, hire, and retain your next winners. We can also provide the results of having your own full-time personnel director at part-time rate. Let us take on the time consuming process of sifting through applicants and presenting you with the best candidates to choose from. Schedule your initial consultation today at the heavily discounted rate of $49 at SYAinc.com!

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