How to Hire Exceptional Employees

February 9, 2016

Hire Exceptional Employees

In today’s topsy-turvy economic market, knowing how to hire the right people can make a big difference to your company’s bottom line.

Unfortunately, more than one-third of new hires don’t last 90 days.

Although many factors contribute to turnover rates (onboarding practices, company culture, even the job market in your local area), the experts are unified on one point: Hiring the right people the first time is the key to increased productivity and company well-being.

The High Cost of Bad Decisions

When a new hire goes bad, it directly affects your company’s financial status.


Image courtesy of FastCompany.com

Employers estimate the cost of each bad hire at somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000. This can be directly attributed to the cost of recruiting and training a replacement, lost time and productivity, and the negative impact that turnover has on employee morale and customer service.

Begin with an Exhaustive Job Analysis


Performing a detailed analysis of the position in question helps you truly understand the requirements of the job. This includes the mental and physical tasks involved in the day-to-day job performance; the methods, tools and equipment necessary to do the job; the knowledge and skills required to perform at maximum capacity; and the goals and objectives of the position.

Although most companies develop job descriptions, few go the extra mile to truly analyze the job’s requirements. Not only will a thorough job analysis help you get a better picture of the ideal candidate, it also will provide a helpful guide for ongoing performance evaluation.

For assistance with the job analysis process, check out this helpful guide from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Don’t Skip the Details in Your Help Wanted Ads

By not casting your hiring net as widely, you’ll avoid more unqualified candidates. This will make the hiring process easier — and the pool of talent you’ll get to choose from will be more on target.

Using information from your job analysis, make your help wanted ad as detailed and specific as possible. The Harvard Business Review recommends determining precisely the type of candidates you seek and then trying to make the job sound appealing to this demographic.

Be clear about experience and educational requirements. And, rather than list required and desired qualifications guidelines, use your desired list as your minimum standard.

As for where to post your job opening, remember that the majority of perspective employees are looking for a job exclusively through online resources. LinkedIn is a requisite, as are CareerBuilder and Indeed, but don’t stop there.

Robert Half International ranked the Top 10 job search websites for 2015. Check out their list and utilize as many of them as possible.

Paring Down the Candidate Pool

Paring Candidate Pool

If you’re like most employers in today’s job market, you’re likely to receive dozens — or even hundreds — of resumes and applications in response to your job posting.

In fact, Workopolis reports that employers receive as many as 250 resumes for each corporate job opening posted. So how do you handle this overwhelming response?

Although many large organizations use HR scanning software to screen resumes, this may not be the best idea. The ideal candidate can easily be ruled out if his or her resume doesn’t contain your “magic” words, or if it is formatted in such a way that it scans poorly.

The best approach is for someone in human resources to check each resume for the minimum education and experience requirements. Shoot out an email to candidates who make the cut and ask them to confirm their continued interest and availability (aka, make sure they haven’t already accepted a position elsewhere) and their willingness to accept the offered salary range, hours, etc.

At this point, you can either begin the preliminary interview process or further pare down the applicant count by administering tests or assessments.

Tests and Assessments: Genius or Insanity?


Chances are, you’ve been bombarded with information from test development companies promising you a miracle cure for all your hiring ills. And it will only cost you a few thousand dollars each year!

Unfortunately, most psychometric assessments are bunk, because few are based on any kind of real science. Plus, most applicants give their responses based on what they believe employers want to hear, in an effort to create the best possible impression.

Best case, you’ll waste precious financial resources in exchange for flashy graphs and charts that don’t really tell you anything about your applicant.

If your job opening requires specific skills or knowledge, look for assessments that measure applicants’ hard skills. If you’re set on personality or trait testing, see our recommendations below for evaluating a candidate’s fit.

Your Secret Weapon: The Structured Interview

Secret Weapon

The point at which the hiring process usually goes really wrong is the interview.

It’s easy to get off topic during an interview, as each applicant has a unique perspective and personality. The research is clear, however, that a highly structured interview is the only way to go.

Following a prescribed structure, which includes asking each candidate the same questions, allows you to objectively evaluate and compare candidates. It also will keep you from straying off topic, respecting your time as well as the applicants’.

Design your interview questions and evaluation criteria based on the job analysis, and be sure to include both past behavior and situational questions.

Finally, experts recommend using an interview team of three or four people. This provides other objective opinions on the applicant’s interview performance and responses.

Determining Fit for Your Company’s Culture

Company Culture Fit

Although organizational psychologists agree that a good fit is important for a successful hire, they don’t really have a foolproof approach for identifying — or even defining — fit.

One of the best ways to approach this, if you’re set on testing for a good fit, is to administer your personality assessment of choice to your best employees. Then, after you give the test to your applicants, look for those scores that most closely match your own superstars.

Consider Multiple Data Points

The most effective approach to hiring the right candidate is to consider all the data points that you have accumulated through the interview process. This will show you overall how your applicants stack up in comparison.

Although you can’t always rely on the responses, do take the time to verify job history and check with professional references.

How valuable is Googling candidates, or trolling their social media accounts?

Hiring experts recommend paying more attention to candidates’ LinkedIn profiles and other job-related information found online, and less to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts.

If a cursory search turns up highly inappropriate posts or information about an applicant, certainly do consider how that may affect your company’s image, but take anything found online (and not verified) with a grain of salt.

Some Final Words of Advice

Although it can be a time-consuming process, you’ll serve your future hiring efforts best by responding to all of your applicants, even if you aren’t interested. For those who don’t land the job, take the time to contact each one personally and provide some brief feedback on why they weren’t selected.

Experts strongly recommend that organizations develop a talent community or network, for ongoing recruiting purposes.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post outlining helpful advice, tips and tricks for cultivating a high-quality network of employees — once you know how to hire them, you’ll want to know how to keep them!

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