FarOutScout’s Approach To Hiring
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.
Table of contents
- Hiring for Job Requirements Rather than Skills
- How to Evaluate the Candidate after Your First Interview
Hiring for Job Requirements Rather than Skills
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:
- Macro Approach - List measurable objectives for each major element in the job, including technical skills, team skills and management issues.
- Micro Approach - Set objective measures for competency in each required skill.
- Benchmarking Approach - Examine the traits of the best people already doing related jobs and look for similar traits in prospective candidates.
The Four Key Interview Questions
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:
- What is your most significant career accomplishment? Describe two or three other major accomplishments you achieved as an individual and as part of a team.
- How would you solve a typical problem on the job? Give the person an example of a real-time problem he or she might face. This is the "visualization question."
- What have you done in your current position and what is the biggest impact or change as a result of your work? This is the "impact question."
- What have you accomplished that is similar to the job for which you are applying? This is the job competency question.
Use a formal opening and close, and ask questions that reveal the person’s character and cultural fit with your organization.
How to Evaluate the Candidate after Your First Interview
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:
- Energy, drive and initiative.
- Trend of individual and team performance over time.
- Comparability of past accomplishments with your performance objectives.
- Experience, education and background in the industry.
- Skill in solving problems and thinking (technical, tactical and creative intelligence).
- Overall talent, technical skill level and potential for growth.
- Managerial and organizational skills, if relevant to the job.
- Team leadership in being able to motivate and persuade others.
- Character values, goals and commitment.
- Personality and fit with the culture of your organization.
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.
Hiring High Caliber Employees
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:
- Using skill-based ads that ask for too many skills or filter out top candidates who don’t have every skill listed.
- Having poor recruiters who are trained as salespeople instead of as career consultants.
- Not explaining what the real job is.
- Emphasizing money and benefits rather than the job’s career growth potential.
- Qualifying a candidate based on interview performance, rather than on motivation and ability to do the work.
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.