Finding and hiring suitable candidates can be a stressful situation:
Getting it right helps to positively shape your culture and push your company ethos
Getting it wrong can cost up to $840,000 in total for a single bad hire
Hiring the right candidate cuts unnecessary costs, strengthens your organization, and promotes teamwork and cohesion among your employees. It’s an important skill to master if you want to succeed as a recruiter and hiring manager.
The problem is that even when you succeed occasionally, it’s difficult to know how to hire the right person every time for every role.
But you don’t need mystical fortune-telling powers or a crystal ball to achieve this goal.
The best candidates have a combination of relevant hard and soft skills and the right personality traits, and you can identify them in 10 straightforward steps.
We’ll guide you through this process in this article.
As turnover rates rise, most businesses struggle to fill long-term roles, especially since the pandemic.
The cost of a bad hire can be debilitating. You’ve spent all that time on the advertising and hiring process, onboarding and training, potentially redoing the work that wasn’t done right – and then you have to sing it all again from the top if it doesn’t work out.
But how about when things do work out?
Hiring the right employees helps you:
Improve your company culture: It’s especially important early on to hire people who embody company values and model the right behavior. Examples of things you want to model are overcommunication, radical candor, and team spirit.
Introduce new perspectives: Avoid getting stuck in an echo chamber by bringing in a person who’s not exactly like the rest of the team but challenges them in all the right ways.
Boost team morale and cohesion: Make learning together and helping each other an intrinsic part of your company culture so that employees thrive and deliver high-quality work as a unit.
Hire employees your people want to work with: Make collaboration and communication easy by hiring open, positive, respectful, and empathetic people. Minimize interpersonal problems, and make working together easy and fun.
Reduce your recruiting and hiring costs: Spend less on new job postings, interviews, onboarding costs, and the headache of having to do it all over again because the person wasn’t right for the role.
Boost overall company performance: Have a team of competent and motivated individuals who work like a well-oiled machine and produce excellent results. Hiring and training new employees all the time is time-consuming and can lower your overall performance while colleagues and managers have to train new hires.
Reduce hiring costs and increase profits: Making the right hire helps you decrease the costs associated with bad hires, onboarding, and doing double work. Furthermore, it helps you improve performance and deliverables, leading to happier clients, more work, and higher profits.
Hiring the right people is the foundation of a thriving, growing workplace. It’s not something you can leave up to chance. So how do you select the perfect candidate for a job?
Let’s discuss the most important things to consider when hiring an employee now that you know why getting it right is essential for your business.
If you’re short on time, here’s an overview of our 10 best practices:
Best practices for hiring the right people
1. Use skills-based hiring
Introduce both skills assessments and personality tests into your hiring process; Drop resumes; Build an excellent candidate experience; Give feedback to all candidates
2. Be crystal clear about the role’s expectations and needs
Pinpoint the exact skills you’re looking for; Leave out anything unnecessary that would disqualify great candidatesDifferentiate must-haves from optional nice-to-haves
3. Focus on candidates’ aspirations and how they match the company’s aspirations
Look for applicants with the honesty, passion, and motivation needed to do well in their role; Find out why they care about doing a good job and what that means to them; Recognize indicators of motivation, like if they ask well-researched questions about the position; Set a high but realistic bar to attract high performers
4. Write inclusive and fair job descriptions
Use gender-neutral terms and language; Don’t disqualify people because of their past unless it’s strictly necessary for the role; Follow fair-chance hiring practices; Double-check your shortlist for diversity
5. Limit manager bias
Run structured interviews to identify the best candidate rather than the best interviewee; Use hiring panels to limit personal biasHave multiple job interviews to get a full picture; Wait until you’re done interviewing all candidates to compare them
6. Consider culture add over culture fit
Break stale dynamics and stagnation by adding fresh perspectives; Hire someone slightly different from the rest of the team to challenge them to grow
7. Opt for remote or hybrid work practices
Remember that workplace flexibility is a top priority for candidates; Widen your talent pool by including working parents, people with disabilities, and international talent; Use remote work to help you retain employees, increase productivity, and save overhead costs
8. Interact with candidates outside the usual channels
Consider holding a company tour or an informal interview in a cafe to get a feel for the person behind the resume; Notice the way candidates treat people when there’s no potential gain in it to see how they would interact with team members; Get to know them outside of a formal setting as a human being
9. Take your time
Don’t rush since this leads to mistakes; Build and nurture a talent pool so that you have job candidates ready when you need them; Do skills-gap analyses regularly to bridge gaps before they become urgent problems
10. Turn to your current employees for recommendations and referrals
Create a passive employee referral scheme; Create a great onboarding experience so that your employees are happy to recommend you; Let the good word spread
Now, let’s unpack each point.
“Skills-based” hiring sounds like what most businesses are already doing, right?
But traditional and skills-based hiring practices are like night and day:
Traditional hiring practices
Skills-based hiring practices
Evaluate candidates based on formal qualifications like schooling or what’s on their resume; Disqualify candidates who may be self-taught, from a different background, or don’t meet some other arbitrary requirement; Don’t guarantee your shortlisted candidates are actually the most qualified out of the bunchLimit your options; Don’t provide enough data for an informed decision
Use pre-employment tests and interviews; Uncover candidates’ direct skills, life experiences, and personalities; Provide better insight into how they would fit in the organization; Give you complete information so that you can make data-driven decisions; Help you zero in on the ideal candidate whom you may have otherwise disqualified because of a hole in their resume; Level the playing field for diverse candidates to join your workforce and shake up your status quo; Give you access to a much wider talent pool
Skills-based hiring is a better choice for everyone involved.
So how do you adopt skill-based hiring practices?
Introduce both skills assessments and personality tests into your hiring process.
Drop the resume requirement. Sometimes organizations pick the person with the best resume rather than the best candidate, so we, like Donnie Brasco, say, “Fuhgeddaboudit!”
Build an excellent candidate experience. Lengthy and repetitive processes turn off great candidates. So only include the necessary steps, and don’t ask people to type the same information that they’ve already shared with you.
Give feedback to all candidates. Word gets around that you offer a great candidate experience, and more people will want to apply and work for you.
Pinpoint the exact skills you’re looking for without adding anything unnecessary that would disqualify great candidates.
We get it: When you’re hiring, particularly for a specialized role, you probably have an ideal candidate in mind. Naturally, you want to find someone who meets 100% of your requirements.
But if you think about it, many of the things that businesses list as “requirements” make more sense as good-to-have bonuses instead.
One example is asking for relevant samples of work for an entry-level position.
Samples reflect a job applicant’s current standards and practices. They can help you see how well a person already fits the role and where (if at all) you might need to mentor them if they’re hired.
But samples are not essential. You’re not looking for someone with loads of experience in the first place, so making them mandatory could cut out qualified candidates and shrink your talent pool.
Always focus on the role itself and the responsibilities the candidates will have.
Describing the details helps candidates determine if the job is a good fit for them before they even contact you, leaving you with more high-quality candidates to choose from.
Matching aspirations is one of the surest ways to guarantee an employee is self-motivated from the start.
It’s up to you to help maintain that level of engagement later, but it’s easier to fan flames that are already there than to create sparks from scratch.
A person who takes pride in their job approaches the role with high standards for their quality of work.
When you find this person, it’s important to encourage their enthusiasm, appreciate their efforts, and help them achieve their goals so that they don’t lose that spark or leave.
But how do you find such a candidate in the first place?
Check whether they have honesty, passion, and motivation to do well in their role (and aren’t just working for a paycheck)
Find out what drives them – why do they care about doing a good job, and what do they consider a job well done?
Note how they approach you – if they did their homework on the business and have lots of thoughtful questions for you, that’s a green flag because it shows genuine interest and motivation
Set a high but realistic bar – the best candidates value opportunities for development and want to fill their portfolio with stellar work, so they aim to work with organizations that can help propel them further
Your job descriptions might not be as inclusive as you thought if you…
Write “he/she” instead of a neutral “they” when referring to candidates
Use masculine, youthful terms like “ninja,” “wizard,” or “superstar” that seem harmless but actually discourage other genders and older workers from applying
Exclude candidates with a criminal record across the board
Unless you make it clear that you welcome candidates of all genders, sexual orientations, neurotypes, religions, and various life experiences, you might miss out on great talent.
Companies that include people with criminal records, for example, experience significant benefits:
Greater diversity, leading to richer perspectives, more innovation, and even higher revenue
Attracting other talent who value that diversity and want to be a part of it
A larger talent pool – 77 million Americans have a criminal record, many of them unjustly and unfairly so – how much talent might you lose by overlooking them?
Changing the lives of previously incarcerated people by giving them a fair chance to re-enter the workforce and fulfill their potential
In short, inclusive hiring is the right thing to do. Here’s how to do it right:
Use gender-neutral terms and language
State that you don’t disqualify people because of their past unless it’s strictly necessary for the role
Follow fair-chance hiring practices like updating your background check tool and assessing criminal records for relevance
Don’t dismiss people based on harmless differences, like an autistic candidate avoiding eye contact if they’re applying for an IT role where it’s irrelevant
Double-check your shortlist for diversity – for example, if all your candidates have exactly the same background and education, it could be a sign of interviewer bias
Speaking of bias…
Many managers and recruiters feel that following their instinct is the best way to make a good hire.
But personal bias creeps into the selection process when the candidate’s image, name, school, and other details subtly shape the manager’s opinion of the candidate.
Bias leads to hiring the person you like but not necessarily the best person for the job.
To ensure you’re staying as objective as possible, try:
Running structured interviews in which you ask the same questions in the same order. This gives everyone an equal chance so that you can identify the most fitting candidate rather than the best interviewee.
Using hiring panels to limit personal bias by having multiple people and perspectives present. The idea here is that your individual biases won’t be identical, so you can more easily spot and contain them.
Conducting multiple interviews to get a full picture of the candidate and get past the first impression.
Waiting until you’re done interviewing all candidates to compare and consider them with a cool head.
These strategies help you become a better interviewer and collect consistent data across all interviews so that you can make more informed, fairer hiring decisions.
Hiring too many people from the same mold can lead to groupthink, stale dynamics, and stagnation in the long run.
You would do better to hire someone who is slightly different from the rest of the team – similar enough that they understand each other but different enough to challenge them with fresh ideas.
Consider the team dynamics and ensure you have a mixture of people with different skills, strengths, and experiences. This way, they can complement each other and learn together.
Hiring for culture add helps boost innovation and engagement, and it’s fundamental for startups and growing businesses because initial recruits shape the culture of a company.
A Culture Add test can help you make quick work of this.
Hybrid and remote arrangements welcome candidates who either can’t or prefer not to work full-time in the office, including:
Working parents and caregivers who need flexibility
Candidates with disabilities or chronic conditions who can’t access your office or need to work in shorter sprints with frequent breaks
International candidates who could do stellar work but can’t relocate
People who switched to remote work during the pandemic and simply don’t want to go back to the office because of the commute, dress code, or other reasons
A survey by Deloitte found that 94% of respondents believed they would benefit from workplace flexibility, particularly because it would reduce stress and enable them to better integrate their work and personal lives.
Yes, remote and hybrid work comes with unique challenges you need to handle. They require you to implement new and stronger communication channels.
Intentional community building is another fundamental factor since remote workers won’t build relationships naturally if they don’t see their colleagues daily.
But in the long run, this effort pays off.
By adopting hybrid and remote work practices, you can access a far larger talent pool and find the right hire instead of opting for the “okay candidate” in your local area.
The benefits of these arrangements extend beyond hiring, too. For example, allowing employees to work from home helped Spotify reduce turnover rates.
Remote recruiting improves productivity, employee satisfaction, and employer brand image while reducing some of your overhead costs.
Consider incorporating unusual activities in your interview process, such as a company tour or an informal interview in a cafe, to get a feel for the person behind the resume.
Pay attention to the candidate’s behavior, including:
How they speak to a waiter versus how they speak to you
How they treat people when there’s no potential gain in it (like a position at the business)
How they behave outside of a formal setting as human beings, not just as employees
Think about how this candidate would shape your workplace, how they would interact with their colleagues, and whether or not they would push your ethos.
If the person is hired, you want their impact to be positive.
Many bad hires are the result of hiring managers and recruiters rushing to fill an empty role.
When you need to hire urgently, there are only so many precautions you can take.
That’s why you need to consider your recruiting process and skills gaps regularly before they become an emergency.
For starters, you should build and nurture a talent pool to always have high-quality candidates available. Don’t miss out on silver medalists and passive candidates just because they weren’t right for the role this time. You might need them in the future.
Secondly, do regular skills-gap analyses to spot potential problems and needs early.
This gives you enough time to close the gaps without having to settle for Band-Aid solutions or dealing with the costs of a bad hire.
If you’re not talking to your employees about their networks, peers, ex-colleagues, and other potential talent, consider this your nudge to make it a habit.
We don’t mean gossip – we’re talking about employee referrals!
Why? Because “good people know good people.” If a previous colleague got along with an excellent employee, chances are they would work well in your organization.
Don’t overlook them. Instead:
Create a system that adds and nurtures passive talent in the talent pool and rewards employees for participating
Build an excellent onboarding process – don’t lose out on the right person because you weren’t prepared to nurture them into your business
The second point also gives your current employees a reason to refer you to their network and not just the other way around.
If they went through a wonderful onboarding process and had a positive experience overall, their enthusiasm for your organization can proliferate and make other potential candidates eager to join you.
The importance of hiring the right person can’t be overstated – it makes or breaks your company culture and sets the sails for your future performance.
It can be a tough task, but you can make it happen with the right tips.
Small changes to your hiring approach can snowball and make a massive impact on your business.
Word of mouth from positive candidate experiences shapes your employer brand and influences who you attract and hire in the future.
To kickstart your skills-based hiring process, you can find a pre-employment test relevant to any job.
If you’d like to continue learning about recruitment, check our blog section on pre-employment screening for help with any role you need to fill.
Sundberg, Jörgen. (2012). “What Is the True Cost of Hiring a Bad Employee?” The Undercover Recruiter. Retrieved December 21, 2022. https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/infographic-what-cost-hiring-wrong-employee/
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