Prepare to Hire the Right People

August 26, 2011

At a time when the stock market is a frightful roller coaster ride, consumer confidence is extremely low and the US unemployment is over nine percent, it may seem silly to talk about hiring again. But things will improve and you need to be prepared for when it does.

In Jim Collins’ seminal book Good to Great, he stated: “Get the right people on the bus. Get the wrong people off the bus. And then get the right people in the right seats on the bus.” Everything begins and ends with the right people doing the right jobs at the right time.

So just how do you hire the right people? How do you ensure that at a time of high unemployment you sort through the many potential candidates and get the best possible employee?

In most businesses the people you employ are your most important asset. They make or sell your product or service, and they determine whether you are successful or not. Therefore, hire winners. Hire people who are smart, hard working, ambitious and nice to be around.

Be certain you know exactly what it is you’re looking for. Commit this to paper and circulate it to everyone likely to work with this person. Ask for advice and comments from everyone on your team. Make sure you have thought beyond the knowledge and skills of your current people to include all the qualities you are seeking in an ideal candidate.

In Full Engagement: Inspire, Motivate, and Bring Out the Best in Your People, author Brian Tracy suggests the Law of Three in Hiring. He says this technique can increase the quality of your hires to a 90 percent success rate.

The Law of Three in Hiring

  • Interview Three Candidates – Choosing at least three candidates to interview can give you three different perspectives on the kind of people who are available. Don’t underestimate how powerful this can be in helping you identify the right fit.
  • Interview Three Times – Interview the person you like at least three times because with each interaction you will see another side of the person to evaluate. You may also learn further details or discrepancies in the stories the candidate reveals about his or her experience.
  • Select Three Different Meeting Places – This is helpful because people are subject to the “chameleon effect” and often change their personality when you move them around. Meet the candidate in a coffee shop or restaurant to see them in a more relaxed and public setting. You will see different sides of their personality that may be admirable or not so admirable.
  • Have Three Different People Interview the Candidate – This is especially important for the people who will be working directly with the candidate. And be sure to take their feedback seriously when making your decision. Ideally, you’ll want 100 percent agreement on who to hire.

Most importantly take your time in making a decision. This is currently an employer’s market and you have the luxury of taking time for fact checking the resume, contacting references for more than cursory information, and evaluating whether this is truly the right person.

It can cost between three and six times the person’s annual salary to hire someone who doesn’t work out. This cost is made up from the time spent on interviewing and training, the person’s salary and benefits while they are learning the job, and the lower level of productivity in the first few months of any new hire. Employee morale can also suffer with high turnover in your place of business.

Finally, it is important to trust your gut. Your intuition will tell you whether this is the right person and your brain will then logically justify your decision one way or the other.

Take the time and effort to get the right people on your bus.