Leader.co.za - Management, Training and Career Advice for Business Leaders







06 JULY 2021
Use this 3-step process to hire the best talent

by Jeff Haden: Bestselling non-fiction ghostwriter, speaker and columnist for Inc.com.


Recruiting and identifying the job candidate with the right skills for the role is a situation every business owner faces. But actually developing a process that allows you to hire the best talent is tough. Generic recruiting and hiring processes won't always identify the perfect candidate for your business-the type of hire most likely to flourish in the role.

Using an "average" hiring process, failing to determine the skills, attributes, and traits the perfect candidate for the job will possess, can mean hiring "average" people - and no business can afford to do that.

For example, Mark Cuban looks for people who are smart, driven, and eager to learn. But then he goes a step further. Cuban says the most talented people, the employees who are invaluable, "understand that the greatest value you can offer a boss is to reduce their stress."

Another example of the pitfalls of following a generic hiring process: assuming years of experience indicates a level of talent. Most job postings include some sort of "experience qualifier": three years of experience. Five years of experience.

Yet extensive research shows that years of experience has no correlation to job performance. Those findings fall in line with at least one other study showing that only 11 percent of new hires fail in the first 18 months because of a lack of technical skills. They've done the job. They can do the job. What they lack is the right motivation, a willingness to be coached, or emotional intelligence.

One last example of the pitfalls of following a boilerplate hiring process: reference checks. Most people check references at the very end of the hiring process (if at all).

Daniel Sillman, CEO of Relevent Sports Group, a NYC-based sports media and promotions company with more than 100 employees, flips that script. Sillman filters through résumés, creates a shortlist of the top candidates, and then checks references before he conducts the interviews.

Reference checks serve as an additional qualifications and suitability filter, but more important help him better understand traits and attributes that don't appear on a résumé. Motivation. Drive. Values. Career-defining moments.

"Instead of hiring a person who may fill the bill from a résumé standpoint," Sillman says, "I look for a person with a true sense of urgency, a drive to be solution-oriented ... a 'get (stuff) done' type of person who has the core values we embrace as an organisation. That person we can train to perform a specific role."

In short, Sillman recognises that skills can be learned in training-but attitude, drive, and work ethic cannot.

Create your own process to hire the best talent

Every job requires different skills and attributes. Every company requires employees with different skills and attributes. After all, your goal is to ensure not just that every new hire will be great, but also that, as a team, your employees can collectively be great.

So for the moment, don't think about finding the stereotypical perfect candidate who ticks every qualification box. If you could choose only one attribute required to do the job well, what is the most important skill, trait, or quality a superstar in the role needs to possess?

Maybe, as with Cuban, it's the ability to reduce your stress. Maybe, as with Sillman, it's possessing the core values and attributes that will allow the employee to flourish in a variety of roles.

Or maybe, as with Tejune Kang, the founder of 6D Global, a three-time Inc. 5000 information technology services company based in California, you feel the most talented people rise to a challenge. Late in job interviews, Kang sometimes says, "I'm sorry, but I just don't think this job is the right fit for you." Then he sees how the candidate responds.

Many fold their cards.

But a few don't give up. To Kang, a superstar pushes past barriers. Pushes past rejection and roadblocks. Perseveres when times get tough. Those are the people Kang wants to hire.

For you, the "must have" quality might be a specific skill set. Or attitude. Or certain interpersonal skills. Or teamwork. Or emotional intelligence. Whatever it is, identify it.

Then design your hiring process to identify the candidate who possesses the superstar quality your business needs. How?

1. Create the perfect job posting

Instead of writing - or copying and pasting an example of - a generic job posting, take a step back and answer a few questions.

  • What primary business need will the most talented person fulfill?
  • What measures and metrics do I (or will I) use to recognise a top performer in the role?
  • What attributes do our top performers have in common? (Hard skills, soft skills, motivation and drive, etc.)
  • Why would the perfect candidate want this job?

Answer those questions, and then use the answers as a guide to create a job posting that will attract the best candidates. Remember, while your initial goal is to share the opportunity widely on job posting sites and job boards, your primary goal is to connect with outstanding talent.

You don't need scores of people to respond. You just need the right candidate to respond.

2. Tailor your interview questions

Maybe you'll ask a few of the most common questions. Maybe you'll ask a few of the most common behavioural interview questions. Maybe, like Kang, you'll ask one or two unusual interview questions.

Just make sure the questions you choose help you identify the perfect candidate for the role. Relevant skills. Relevant experiences. Relevant behaviours.

In short, ask questions that help you determine which candidate is the perfect match for your job posting. You've already determined the kind of people you need. Now you just have to tailor your questions so you can find them.

But don't stop there.

3. Evaluate the questions the candidate asks you.

Talented people have options. They're not looking for just any job; they're looking for the right job. During the interview, the best candidates are also evaluating you and your business.

Which means the best candidates will ask smart questions. Like:

  • "What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60/90 days?"
  • "What are some of the traits your top performers have in common?"
  • "What really drives results in this job?"
  • "What are your company's highest priority goals this year, and how would my role contribute?"

What can you learn from questions like these?

The best candidates want to hit the ground running. They want to be great employees. They seek work that is meaningful, valuable, and makes an impact. The best talent wants to feel they are part of a real team with a real purpose-and they want the people they work with to approach their jobs the same way.

Listen closely after you say, "Do you have any questions for me?" Those questions can reveal what matters most to the candidate.

And can reveal what will matter most to them when they actually work for you.

Which, if you create a process that helps you identify the best talent, will align with what matters most to your business.

Useful resources:

BlackBird Media
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry from forklift driver to manager of a 250-employee book plant. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Visit our InfoCentre or website.

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