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Hire top performers

Management | August 1, 2015 | By:

A bad hire wastes precious time and money. Ensure that your hiring process identifies the best employees for your company—every time.

By Gregory P. Smith

Most employers agree the typical employee selection process is minimally effective at best. Unfortunately, resumes and job interviews are becoming less reliable. Here are the most common problems surrounding job applications and resumes, according to a survey completed by

  • 38 percent of those surveyed indicated they had embellished their job responsibilities.
  • 18 percent admitted they lied about their skill set.
  • 12 percent indicated they had been dishonest about their start and end dates of employment.
  • 10 percent confessed to lying about an academic degree.
  • 7 percent said they lied about the companies they had worked for.

A strategic selection process determines if there is a match between an individual and a job. The right process allows you to understand the applicant’s behavior, values, motivations and qualifications. I’ve seen applicants who don’t like calling people hired for sales jobs and customer service people who can’t look a customer in the eye and say hello. Then there are good employees who get promoted into management positions despite lacking the competencies to lead and manage others.

Here are several reasons why managers responsible for hiring new employees fail to hire top performers:

The right process helps you to understand the applicants behavior, values, motivations and qualifications.

Lack of preparation. Prior to the interview, make sure to understand the key elements of the job. Develop a simple outline that covers general job duties. Possibly work with the incumbent to get a better idea of what the job is about. Screen the résumés and applications to gain information for the interview. Standardize and prepare the questions to ask each applicant.

Lack of purpose. Not only are you trying to determine the best applicant, but you are also attempting to convince the applicant that your company is the best place for him or her to work. Top performers have many options.

Lack of clearly defined job competencies. Each job can have anywhere from six to 10 job competencies. Identify the behaviors, knowledge, motivations and qualities applicants need to have to be successful in the job. If the job requires special education or a license, be sure to include it on your list. There are several assessments and profiles available to help ensure a good match between the applicant and the job.

Lack of structure. The best interview techniques follow a structured process. This doesn’t mean the entire process is inflexible and without spontaneity. Ask each applicant the same questions and score them with a consistent rating system. This approach helps avoid bias and gives all applicants an equal opportunity.

A structured approach

The best way to achieve a structured process is by using behavioral-based questions, situational questions and role-plays. Here are some examples:

Behavioral-based questions evaluate the applicant’s past behavior, experience and initiative. Ask questions such as:

  • Give me an example when you . . .
  • Describe an incident where you went above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Tell me about the time you reached out for additional responsibility.
  • Tell me about the largest project you worked on.
  • Tell me about the last time you broke the rules.

Situational questions evaluate the applicant’s judgment and knowledge. The interviewer gives the applicant a hypothetical situation such as:

“You are a manager and one of your employees has just told you that he thinks another worker is stealing merchandise from the store.”

1. What should you do?
2. What additional information should you obtain?
3. How many options do you have?
4. Should you report this to your supervisor?
5. When should you report this?

Role-playing is an effective way to learn and practice new skills. The technique can also be used during the interview process to determine an applicant’s skills and charisma while under stress. For example, if you are interviewing a person for a customer service representative position, you can role-play to see how this person would manage an irate customer. Follow this process for role-playing during the interview process:

1. Write the situation down on paper. Give the interviewee a short break to get into character.
2. Give the candidate clear guidelines and background information so she or he thoroughly understands the situation.
3. Allow the candidate to ask questions before you begin.
4. Debrief the applicant at the conclusion of the role-play. Ask them to tell you how they thought they did and how they could have done it differently. Conclude the role-play in a positive way.

Ensuring the right fit

A structured approach will improve your chances of hiring a top performer, but it is important to go one step further. Preemployment profiles are a valid, legal, reliable and important part of the hiring process for a growing number of employers.

About 65 percent of all employers use some form of assessment during the hiring process. By using these tools, organizations have reduced turnover and improved the quality of their workforce. Assessments provide an accurate analysis of an employee’s behaviors, skills and attitudes that may otherwise be left to subjective judgment.

Another strategy for hiring top performers is to identify and understand your current top performers. Certain assessments allow you to graphically profile the behaviors, attitudes and attributes of your employees, giving you the ability to compare the characteristics of top and low performing employees. This benchmark process puts you in a powerful position to predict job success.

Greg Smith’s cutting-edge keynotes, consulting and training programs have helped businesses reduce turnover, increase sales, hire better people and deliver better customer service. As president of Chart Your Course International, he has implemented professional development programs for hundreds of organizations globally. He has authored nine informative books including Fired Up! Leading Your Organization to Achieve Exceptional Results. For more information call +1 770 860 9464.

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