Don’t Hire Problems

One of management’s key responsibilities is selecting the right people to perform the functions needed by the business to operate productively. Hiring the wrong person can affect your business for years. Businesses have even been found legally liable for damages to property and injury to customers as a result of employee incompetence because they failed to uncover the candidate’s depth of ignorance at the time of hiring.

Whether you’re about to hire your first team member or you’ve already hired dozens, there are some basic steps to the process that you need to keep in mind.

Step 1. Know exactly what you’re looking for before you start looking

The first thing to do is to clearly define the person you’re looking for in terms of their education, skills and competencies required to perform the job. But it needs to go much further than that.  You also need to clearly set out the type of person you need to help you achieve the vision you have for your business. Qualities like friendliness, integrity and enthusiasm are important in a smaller enterprise.

Step 2. Consider how you’re going to find them

How you go about getting the word out about your position goes a long way toward determining the quality of the candidates you’ll get applications from. You can advertise directly, which means you get to do all the qualifying and screening yourself. Or, you can use an outside source such as a government placement service or a fee-based recruitment agency. Don’t rush into this decision. Identify your options and talk with someone from each agency you could use. You’ll get a lot of good ideas doing this and eventually find the agency with access to the biggest pool of quality prospects.

Step 3. Plan your interview process carefully

The attributes you chose in step 1 will now become the basis of your interview questions. Many of these issues are easily turned into questions, for example about their education, background and work experience. Others, such as their degree of enthusiasm, are subjective and require your own assessment.

Ask at least a few open ended questions to extract the candidate’s feelings on particular subjects. Get their ‘take’ on important areas like their attitude toward customer service and their relationship with co-workers and supervisors. Give them some ‘what if’ questions to see how they might behave in certain situations.

Step 4. Thoroughly check their resumes and references

Do thorough background checking on candidates you think might be worth hiring. Even if they’ve made a terrific impression during the interview there may be something lurking in their past that can cause you problems in the future.

A pre-employment investigation is easy to arrange and will quickly tell you if they have any criminal convictions or a history of problems with employers. Contact their former employers and ask them for a reference. They may not be willing to say much, but even their guarded answers may tell you that there’s been some sort of conflict in those previous positions.

You may even consider having an outside testing firm administer standard tests for things like emotional stability and intelligence.

Step 5. Get them up to speed fast

After you’ve appointed the person, a well planned induction will get your relationship off to a good start. This will introduce them to your business, to its culture, and to their workmates. Arrange for any training needed, such as on operating a particular piece of equipment or in the use of the software your company uses, to be conducted soon after they start. 

Hiring is really about people and not just a set of skills that any one of several candidates may possess. Dedicate your hiring process to getting the right person in every respect; the future of your company depends on it.