12 Essential Steps To Hiring A Winning Team

You probably already know that the biggest single factor in making business growth successful is the quality and competencies of the people you hire and how well they “fit” with your company. And like most leaders, you’ve probably already experienced how a “wrong fit” can have disastrous consequences… Following these 12 essential steps will help you ensure that every hire is a great hire.

If you are a manager, the biggest factor contributing to your success in your role – and ability to be promoted – is the quality of the people you have working for you. Your team needs people you can rely upon to do their jobs with excellence and dedication. Furthermore, you will need to have at least one person who is your potential successor. Keep in mind that leaders with ready groomed successors are three times more likely to get promoted.

The hiring decision is one of the most important and far reaching decisions that we ever get to make, yet most managers admit that most of the hiring decisions they have made in the past were, to a greater or lesser extent, mistakes.

Follow these 12 essential steps to hire a winning team in the future:

Finding and first contact

  1. Know what you want

    Make sure that you know what you want the new hire to do. Write the performance goals – a list of the things you want the person to achieve in their first year. Be specific, quantify and time limit each goal.

    For example:

    • Sell $250,000 of your product / service every quarter
    • Integrate the accounting of our new acquisition by year end, without adding staff
    • Implement new website by January 31st for a budget of $30,000

    Then write down the other hiring criteria that you will apply: Experience required; skills and abilities; qualifications; personality and ‘fit’.

  2. Write a job description that sells the position

    Using the performance goals and hiring criteria that you developed in Step 1, create a job description that sells the position to prospective candidates. It should give a brief and upbeat overview of the company, a summary of the job and the opportunity that it offers, a list of the performance goals and hiring criteria and your contact information. When listing the performance goals, be careful not to say anything that you do not want your competition to know.
  3. Source excellent candidates

    This is one thing that almost everyone gets wrong! The typical approach is to post an ad on a job board, or in a newspaper or trade magazine, and wait for the résumés to come in. Alternatively, you may send out a request to people in your social network (LinkedIn, Facebook) saying “Do you know of anyone looking for a job as a …”.

    Unfortunately these approaches tend to give you only candidates who are currently looking for work. They do not reach the candidates who are currently working but not actively looking. These are the best candidates of all.

  4. Tips if you choose to use a recruiter

    Recruiters can be a good resource of great candidates – but be careful … most of them are NOT. When selecting a recruiter, ask them how they source their candidates. If they tell you that they have a database of 50,000 well qualified candidates, politely thank them and go on to the next one. If they are working from a database, the people in that database are typically:

    • People who are currently looking for a job
    • People who are always looking for a job
    • People whom they have already placed with other companies

    Always seek out recruiters who proactively approach candidates who are currently working, maybe working for your competitors. Never work with multiple recruiters on one position, and work only with retained recruiters. It is good to avoid recruiters who specialise in your industry. Industry specialists will have placed people with many of your competitors, and will be unwilling to headhunt people away from their valued clients.

  5. Prepare a candidate package

    This is the shortest step in the process – but it is VITAL. Email a package to potential candidates that contains:

    • A company overview – this is usually a company brochure
    • The job description
    • A one page summary of the company’s benefits package
    • Any recent, positive press or blog postings about the company

    A big part of the process is to attract the candidate to your organisation. A professional looking package of information will set you apart from the competition. If you decide to use a recruiter, this package will be a great help to them.

  6. Making first contact

    In making the first call, you only have one objective: To interest the candidate enough in your company and in the position that they want to see the job description. If you have done your own sourcing and you have a list of possible candidates, the first contact with them will be a surprise for them. Respect their privacy.

    • If your call is answered by someone other than the candidate, do not leave any information – say the call is personal. Ask to be put through to their voice mail or ask for a mobile phone number
    • When you leave a voice message, make sure that you are leaving it for the right person
    • Leave your name, company and call back number but not the reason for your call
    • When you do speak to the candidate, tell them enthusiastically about the position and the opportunity and ask if you could send them the job description

    If they say they are happy where they are, ask them “If this position was a significant step up from where you are now, would you be interested in considering it?”. If they are still not interested, ask them who is the best colleague they have ever worked with – this may yield another candidate. If they are interested, get their home email address and email them the candidate package with a request that if they are interested, to email you back a résumé. If they do not get back to you with a résumé in a few days, call them.

    This phase of the process can be frustrating because you are calling people who are not looking for a job, so most of them will reject your approach, but it will be well worth it in the end.

What not to do!

From here on, your goal is to find reasons NOT to hire the candidates whom you deal with. It is very easy to “fall in love” with a candidate. When you do, unconsciously, your focus becomes proving yourself right; you ask questions that you know the candidate will answer well and you avoid digging for problems; you put your efforts into selling the candidate on the job. This single fact is the primary reason for hiring errors! Even if the candidate seems perfect, make sure that you look for reasons NOT to hire them:

  1. Evaluating résumés

    Résumés need to be carefully analysed.

    • Check that the person has the mandatory qualifications that you need. If not, reject the résumé.
    • Check work history, if they have changed jobs more frequently than is normal for your industry, reject the résumé.
    • If there are gaps in their employment history, make a note to find out why.
    • Compare the performance goals and hiring criteria that you developed in Step 1 with the details in the résumé. Check to see if they have the skills and experience that you require. If they do not, reject the résumé.

    Mark up the résumé with any and all questions that you have. In many cases, the résumé will not tell you whether the person has the skill set that you are looking for. Typically, seventy percent of the résumés you see will fall into your reject pile.

  2. Second contact

    For those candidates whose résumés look good, you should conduct a brief telephone interview. If you carefully prepare your call to each candidate, you will vastly improve your chances of eliminating unqualified candidates in a ten minute call, instead of wasting an hour or more interviewing them in person. Here you are going to ask the questions that you marked up on the résumé. If they do not have what you need, politely tell them. If their answers are good, arrange a face-to-face interview.
  3. The first interview

    In the interview, more than anywhere else, it is vital to remember that your goal is to find reasons NOT to hire the candidate. Interviewing is a complex subject, but the heart of all good interviews is asking open ended, behaviour-based questions. Discuss the performance goals for the position and ask the candidates what they would do to achieve these goals. Ask them how they do their existing jobs and how they exercise their skills. If you are not happy with an answer do not be afraid to dig deeper with more questions.

    The candidate should be talking for at least 70% of the time in the first interview. It has been said that 80% of hiring decisions are made intuitively in the first thirty seconds of an interview, frequently with disastrous results; a good rule of thumb is: if you have a negative intuition about a candidate, it is probably correct; if you have a positive intuition, it is your job to try and prove yourself wrong.

    By the way, always interview one-on-one and never do panel interviews.

  4. Second and subsequent interviews

    Never make a hiring decision based on one interview. If the candidate has passed step 9, have them come back for a series of interviews with some of the people they will work with, including peers and subordinates, human resources and with your own boss, if you have one.

    At the end of these interviews, re-interview the candidate yourself and answer any questions that may have come up in your mind since the first interview. At the end of the interview do NOT make a job offer but do a trial close: “If we were to offer you this job at x salary with y weeks vacation an z benefits would you be interested?” It is a way to test the waters on your job offer.

    If they have reservations, get them into the open so that when you do make a final offer, it will be accepted. After the candidate has left, get everyone’s feedback and if anyone has strong objections, do NOT hire the candidate. In hiring, unfortunately, a negative trumps.

  5. Reference, background and psychological testing

    Many people do not bother with reference checking, based on the notion that the names that the candidate gives you are sure to say good things about them. This is often, but not always, true.

    In your reference checking, as in the interview, ask behaviour-based questions about what they did on the job and how they did it. Make the questions specific and related to answers that the candidate gave you in the interviews. “Was he the highest performing sales person in 2010?” “Did she complete the web design project two weeks early?”.

    Referees want to give good references, so listen very carefully for hesitations before they answer and don’t be afraid to drill deeper for the truth. When you have finished, ask the referee for the name of someone else whom the candidate worked with; you may not get it, but if you do, repeat the reference check with that person too.

    Depending on the nature of the job, you should consider doing credit and criminal record checks. If you have not considered psychological testing, it is something that I would recommend you look into. If any major red flags appear during the checking process, eliminate the candidate, especially if you catch the candidate in a lie.

  6. The decision and the job offer

    If you have more than one candidate, make an analytical comparison of how each candidate rates in terms of the performance goals and hiring criteria that you developed in Step 1. Review the comments from all the other people who interviewed the candidate, then make your decision.

    You should make the job offer face-to-face, not by email or telephone. Sometimes a candidate will have cold feet about making the move which you will be able to counter more easily in person. Have a detailed offer letter, with an area for the person to sign their acceptance. If they “want to sleep on it”, give them a deadline for acceptance, say three working days. In most cases, if you have followed the previous eleven steps, they will accept right there and then and you will have a great new employee as part of your team!


Author Credits       

Priority Management is an international training organisation which provides techniques, tools and training to enhance productivity. There are more than 100 offices worldwide, with branches in all capital cities in Australia. Web Site: http://www.prioritymanagement.com/nsw

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