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Tips for Hiring Superior Employees

Hiring Employees Requires Planning and Careful Execution

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Dan Erling Talks About Hiring

Dan Erling Talks About Hiring

Dan Erling

Hiring superior employees ensures that your organization has the talent onboard that it needs to succeed in accomplishing your mission and vision, and attaining long term profitability. Hiring fundamentals that include a systematic process for hiring and consistent execution of the hiring process result in superior employee wins for your organization.

Dan Erling, author of the book, MATCH: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time (Wiley) (compare prices) asks, "Why is it that so many companies accept mediocre hiring results as the norm? The answer is simple. It doesn't occur to them that, in fact, there is a process that virtually guarantees hiring the right person every time."

Finding the best person for the job is difficult, especially in today's economy, when about 10% of the population is unemployed and applying for work. Based on Erling’s experience with best practices from over a thousand companies, MATCH gives readers a process they can follow to bring about accurate and successful hiring for any position.

Erling participated in an interview with About.com. Erling has been recognized as one of Atlanta’s up-and-coming young executives. He runs a forty-year-old regional accounting/finance recruiting firm, Accountants One, and maintains partnership in a staffing firm, The Waters Organization. In these roles, Dan has been intimately involved in thousands of hiring decisions; his tips and ideas will help you hire superior employees.

Hiring Employees

Susan Heathfield: Dan, you’ve worked with a lot of companies helping them recruit superior employees. Are there consistent mistakes that you see organizations make in recruiting and hiring that my readers can learn to avoid?

Dan Erling: Absolutely. In fact, very few companies are good at consistently hiring the right people. I wish I could help your readers by listing the top five mistakes that you should avoid while hiring. It’s not so simple – but there is a silver lining. Since hiring employees is so hard, organizations that focus on mastering the art of hiring enjoy a great competitive advantage.

Organizations that consistently hire great people are those that view the hiring process like training for a marathon. Top marathoners meticulously plan and systematically execute in order to win the race. Similarly, companies that achieve exceptional hiring results have a fanatical focus on planning and execution. They don’t see hiring an employee as a single act, but as a series of steps.

Many companies complain about not being able to hire the right people, but few put themselves through a disciplined process to do anything about hiring. They may say that they care about hiring and retention. But, most organizations don’t bother themselves with the tedious, time-consuming work required in hiring exceptional people.

So, the number one mistake that organizations make in trying to put together teams of exceptional people is that they don’t prioritize their hiring process. Managers know that the key to business success is having the right people ‘on the bus.’ But, most don’t translate that knowledge into a concrete hiring plan that leads to concrete actions. Managers don’t effectively execute.

Heathfield: You call your recommended system for hiring employees: MATCH. Can you briefly overview what MATCH is and what makes your approach successful and effective?

Erling: For more than a decade, I documented best practices through observing and analyzing thousands of hires. The results make up the bulk of the book - my step-by-step systematic approach to hiring. The process consistently leads to hiring the right person more than 90% of the time. The trick is having the discipline to execute on each step. You can choose to skip steps, but each skipped step increases your odds of a poor hire – which is an expensive proposition.

Heathfield: What do you recommend that organizations can do differently – besides everything - to hire superior employees?

Erling: The first thing that companies can do for hiring superior employees is to go back to the foundation of their own organization. A company must clearly understand and celebrate its fundamental purpose before they can take a single step in identifying and hiring exceptional talent. Once the hiring team truly understands the mission of the organization, then they can most effectively hire people who are aligned with that mission. Further, this clarification ensures that the steps in the hiring process are supported by the mission of the organization.

I am not advocating feel good psychology here. Don’t forget that that all companies (except nonprofits) exist for the purpose of making money. By aligning your mission with your hiring efforts, your company will hire people who naturally are more motivated and therefore more productive. This hiring approach translates into an extraordinary effect on the bottom line.

Heathfield: Dan, I’m looking for a quick tip or two in each of the following areas that are integral components of hiring, for my readers:

  • Heathfield: Posting the open position:

    Erling: Once the mission is integrated into hiring, you move forward by posting the job. Incorporate the essence of the mission of the organization in a genuine way in the job posting so that you attract candidates that better align with your company. So many companies stick just to the facts – highlighting only technical skills and required qualifications when hiring. Why would an exceptional applicant respond to a job posting of that ilk? Look at the opportunity from a potential candidate’s perspective before posting the job.
  • Heathfield: In reviewing the resumes, cover letters and applications employers receive when hiring?

    Erling: To manage the first level of candidate review in hiring (resumes, cover letters and applications), the best companies establish a systematic process. In this online age, applying for a job is often as simple as a mouse click. The result is hundreds - sometimes thousands - of job applications.

    This reality makes it more and more difficult to screen every candidate who applies for an opening when hiring. Without an organized process, this daunting task becomes an impossible proposition. Social media has provided some effective ways to avoid this onslaught of resume submittals. In any case, the key to managing the effective identification of applicants for potential hiring, is training.

    The hiring team must be clear on kick out and move forward criteria. With these clearly defined parameters, a clerical or administrative employee, or an HR Assistant, can review resumes, cover letters and applications, and effectively move potential candidates to the next phase of the hiring process.
  • Heathfield: During the phone screens:

    Erling: After potential candidates have been identified, the most effective companies conduct phone screens. As with the resume review, the phone screen is clearly directed by the hiring team. Clear processes are put into place and acted on by the organization. An effective phone screen is scripted and behavioral in nature. It is also short - around 10 minutes. It is not a first interview, but rather a method for quickly determining if a candidate’s behaviors merit an initial face-to-face interview during the hiring process.
  • Heathfield: Interviewing a prospective employee:

    Erling: Once the prospective employee has succeeded in a process-driven resume and phone screen, he or she is scheduled for an interview. Companies that excel at hiring and retaining exceptional talent most often have the following elements in their interview process:

    --Behavioral in nature: interviews focus on past behaviors in similar roles and environments.
    --Scripted: interviews are not off the cuff, but highly thought out and consistent.
    --Well documented: thorough notes are taken during the interview allowing the entire hiring team to compare apples-to-apples when making a hiring decision.

Heathfield: Dan, do you have any final tips and thoughts for my readers about hiring?

Erling: Companies that approach hiring as a systematic process gain competitive advantage by getting the right people on the bus. Yes, it is true that an organized, structured approach to hiring is exceedingly difficult to implement in our busy, harem-scarem world. But, the overwhelmingly positive results from hiring employees using such a process make this effort worth the investment. Time invested in planning and the investment of the energy necessary to ensure successful execution in hiring superior employees is key.

By objectively and fastidiously collecting data about potential employees in your candidate pool, organizations can make effective decions about hiring people. All of this heavy lifting allows the hiring team to clearly compare each element of the candidate’s skill and cultural fit. With an objective, apples-to-apples comparison in place, the hiring team will be able to finally allow subjectivity to enter the hiring decision and ask, “Which qualified candidate do we like best?”

This systematic approach requires lots of heavy lifting in the execution, but, the investment pays off with the highest degree of confidence when the hiring team approaches the final hiring decision. Most organizations don’t do the leg-work necessary to establish a large enough candidate pool of qualified candidates.

Nor do they implement systems to carefully compare the personality and previous achievements of those candidates in the candidate pool. Instinct does play its part in the final hiring decision, but only after the hiring team has made a careful and logical progression through a systematic process that produced the most qualified candidates for potential hiring. Discipline on the front end allows a company to make astronomically better hiring decisions.

In summary, Erling recommends that organizations develop a systematic approach to hiring that generates a qualified pool of applicants. This starts with incorporating your culture and unique mission in the job posting to attract the candidates you really want. It ends with hiring the superior employee, comfortable in your company culture, skilled and experienced in serving the needs of the job and its customers. This is why hiring employees requires a plan, commitment to executing the plan, trained employees, and flawless execution. The result? Amazing, superior employees.

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