The biggest mistake that hiring managers make is judging candidates based on their ability to give good interviews. They let feelings, biases, stereotypes, and first impressions guide their decision-making.
To hire a superior employee, first define superior performance. Everyone involved in hiring should agree upon a definition of successful performance, including a prioritized list of "deliverables and accomplishments." Use this clear performance profile to filter candidates, to guide in-depth interviews, to negotiate offers and to conduct follow-up reviews, so you can reward and promote new employees.
Use the "SMARTe" method to set performance objectives that are "Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Results-defined, Time-based and Environment-described" (which means that they include a description of your company’s culture, resources and politics). What’s critical is defining the job itself, rather than the person to fill it. The best employees look for jobs based on what they will do and learn, rather than the skills they already have. They are eager to be stretched on the job, so focus on the results you want the person to achieve. Depending on the job you are filling, categorize the accomplishments you seek in one of these ways:
A successful person is self-motivated, achieves intended results, solves real problems in real time, and can motivate and inspire others. Your interview questions should assess these qualities, of which self-motivation is the most important. These qualities predict high level job performance according to the Power Hiring Formula, which says that future performance can be forecast by estimating talent, energy, team leadership potential, comparable past performance and job-related problem solving ability.
To see if a person has these qualities, the key interview questions, in priority order, are:
Use a formal opening and close, and ask questions that reveal the person’s character and cultural fit with your organization.
Beyond the initial one-on-one interview, get additional information to help you make an objective decision. Check references, conduct panel interviews, assign take-home projects and give tests to assess skills, interests and motivation. Verifying the person’s background and references are especially important. This 10-point qualifying checklist can help you make a balanced assessment of a variety of factors, which are:
Watch out for fatal flaws, such as being too assertive, having an overly dominant personality, being too vague or displaying behavioral extremes, such as being too friendly or analytical. As you interview, simultaneously assess, recruit and negotiate, so the candidate doesn’t know he or she is the finalist. This places you in a more powerful negotiating position. Test the offer’s various elements - salary, benefits, options - before you formalize it in writing. If you want to hire a candidate, use an indirect close, such as: "If we could formalize this package in the next few days, when do you think you could start?" This helps you determine if the candidate is ready to take the job before you make a formal offer.
Hire strong employees in the first place, because weak candidates generally never become very good employees, no matter how hard you work with them. To hire the best, create a systematic approach and use it at all levels of your company’s hiring process. Avoid the most common hiring mistakes, including:
Since the best candidates seek careers rather than jobs, frame the jobs you offer in terms of "challenges, major accomplishments and team building needs," rather than just highlighting "skills, experience and requirements," which is how most employment ads are written.