Hiring The Right People – Keys To Increased Success

The most effective action you can take to improve success in hiring the right people for the right jobs, particularly for leaders and emerging leaders, is to evaluate your own selection process. Find out how your organization appears from the viewpoint of candidates – you’ll be amazed at what you find.

Hiring the right people for the right jobs takes a lot of work. It costs a lot of money – for everything from recruiting actions, to employment fees, to travel, to interview time, and all the administrative efforts associated with attracting top talent. And after all that, to have the right person opt out because of some flaw in your process is costly, frustrating, and very expensive. Nowhere is the opportunity to identify issues leading to poor performance and then fixing them, more available than in the selection process.

And yet, knowing that, only a small percentage of organizations take the time to audit what they do.

In my experience, more top candidates are lost early in the process by some issue in the selection cycle that didn’t have to be an issue. And what’s worse – in most cases – the organization doesn’t have a clue – it goes without saying you can’t fix what you don’t know about.

When you audit your own process, three things will happen; you will be amazed at the opportunities to improve – at no or low cost; you will see an improvement in the performance of your hiring managers and others accountable for selection when they know they are being evaluated; and, most importantly, you will see increased success in attracting and keeping the interest of top candidates.

How to perform this audit? Here are the Twelve Keys in the selection process that can make or break your ability to attract top candidates:

Preparation: Have the steps to define the job been done – or is the applicant pool going to set the qualifications?

Speed : How quick are your people to follow up after interviews, to issue expense checks, to thank a candidate for their interest, to provide follow up information, to confirm the next step, or indicate that another person is better suited?

Skill : How prepared are your interviewers to effectively evaluate candidates? What skill building other than repeating the same interview style for the last 10 years do they bring to the table?

Organization: When the candidate shows up, are interviews scheduled with people who can properly evaluate? Has every one reviewed the applicants resume? Are all interviewers assigned goals for their interview? Is paperwork organized ?

Surroundings : Does the workplace say success? Is it clean and business like? Is privacy for interviews assured? Are the rest rooms well kept and clean? Does the workplace project an image of high pace, purpose and accomplishment?

Attitude : Do the people the candidate comes in contact with provide a positive image of the company? Do they project an attitude that says they are glad the person is there? Today’s candidate may be tomorrow’s customer!

Context: Who is assigned to brief the candidate on the company, history, position, performance of the organization, where the position fits in? Who provides the tour of the organization?

Peers: Which peers are most appropriate to meet as part of the selection process? Who is best suited to have a peer to peer conversation? Are they prepared for the ambiguity of that event?

Paperwork: Who assures the necessary documents are given to the candidate at the right time? Who follows up to see that documents are completed and sent and/or received?

Coordination: Who makes sure the interview schedule is filled and communicated, along with interviewer roles? Who ensures a review of candidates happens on a timely basis? Who makes sure the candidate is contacted within two working days of their interview to thank them for their interest, and to set up follow up commitments – if that is appropriate? Who makes sure all interviewed candidates are contacted – even if there is no further interest?

Sales: Every person in the evaluation cycle should be a salesperson for their firm – are yours? Or do they exude that attitude of “you should feel privileged that we have taken the time to talk to you?” Hiring the right person in the right job takes a lot of selling – from both sides.

Legal: Check to ensure the right questions get asked the right way, and the wrong questions don’t get asked. At the same time, ensure what you do isn’t strangled by the overzealous insistence of bureaucrats. In my experience, more legal issues are caused after selection, as opposed to mistakes made in the selection cycle – and most of those issues go back to how mistakes in selection are handled

So how to get the real answers to these questions? Here are the six resources you have available to answer these questions:

Talk to the people that are hired – how do they view your process.

Talk to the people that stepped aside from consideration – what went wrong?

Talk to the professionals that recruit for you – the contingency and retained search people that you use. Many see issues they are reluctant to discuss – but that lead to their efforts being frustrated.

Use a mystery candidate – someone from outside the organization who can represent themselves as a worthy candidate – and see what they have to say. A trusted selection resource can provide the person. See how you really do things through the eyes of someone unfamiliar with your organization.

Talk to your hiring managers – where do they see process steps that can be improved.

Talk to the staff people who do the administration and sourcing – ask the same questions.

That’s feedback from six different resources who can help improve your selection process, reduce costs, add top talent and reduce selection cycle time.


Create a results oriented measure of selection effectiveness – things do not improve unless they can be measured. Don’t let measures of effort be the measure – how much money spent or candidates interviewed can have very little correlation to results. Measures of time to complete the selection process, success of people selected – retention and performance, measures of the “fit” of selections, are the kinds of criteria to use.

Even in the best organizations – measured by selection success – it is well worth the effort to conduct this kind of regular audit – annually, or if significant problems exist, quarterly, until behavior and results suggest a lesser frequency.

The very act of doing this review has a powerful effect on performance. When the belief that every hire is an opportunity to improve the organization is followed up with this kind of attention, improved performance happens.

Take a look at how this can best be done in your own organization. It looks complicated – it isn’t – and the payback can be huge.