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Hiring Top Performers

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Hiring Top Performers

"If you're trying to achieve excellent levels of performance in your organization, it's going to be a lot easier if you hire terrific people in the first place."

Re-Evaluate The Job Before Hiring
If you're going to grow your company or achieve excellent levels of performance in your business unit, it's going to be a lot easier if you hire top performers to begin with, rather than if you have to be constantly pushing and pulling average performers to new levels.

Before you even place the first "Help Wanted" ad for a vacant position, you should do the following:

  • Re-evaluate the mix of responsibilities assigned to the position.
  • Consider if the current people are assigned to the most appropriate positions.
  • Prioritize the "must have" qualifications for the job; the important qualifications; and the helpful, but less important, qualifications.
Don't Just Run A "Help Wanted" Ad
Where should you advertise to attract new help?

"Help Wanted" ads and employment agencies, both of which can be expensive, are obvious places to start. Here's a few other suggestions:

  • Encourage current employees to mention the opening to friends. Consider offering, like many other companies do, a referral bonus.
  • Put up a sign on your building--we've attracted many warehouse workers this way.
  • Especially for professional and technical positions, advertise on the World Wide Web--for example, at the job posting site operated by Adams Media (called careercity.com) over 125,000 jobs are posted from thousands of different companies across the United States
  • You can also access resume databases. Careercity, for example, has over 17,000 current resumes. Resumes on the Web tend to skew toward technical people, but the breadth of resumes being posted is gradually widening.
Quickly Categorize All Applicants
Over the years I've wasted huge amounts of time in the hiring process. So how does one become more efficient? Here are a couple of strategies I've adopted:
  • Immediately sort all candidate resumes into five categories, from the very best to the completely unqualified, and keep every resume sorted this way during the entire hiring process-moving resumes from one category to the next when new information makes this appropriate.
  • Spend as little time as possible in the early stages of the hiring process eliminating the clearly weaker candidates from consideration, but spend as much time as possible in the final stages of the hiring process sorting out the more subtle differences between the very strongest candidates.
Phone Interviews Save Time!
One of the biggest time-savers in hiring is the phone interview. The best part about phone interviews is that there is no established protocol for minimum length. If you don't like the candidate's first few responses, you can simply say, "That's all I have for today," and move on to the next candidate.

Some hiring experts--like Peter Veruki, my coauthor for Adams Streetwise Hiring Top Performers and currently Director of Placement at Vanderbilt's Owen School of Business--stress the importance of allowing the candidate advance notice to arrange a phone interview. But personally I prefer the candidate who's ready to drop whatever they're doing and talk to me on the spot.

During a phone interview, I like to get quickly to the knockout questions like availability, willingness to relocate or travel, and especially salary. If the candidate won't give me a salary range over the phone, I won't have him or her into the office for an interview.

Beyond The Standard References
How do you choose between top job candidates? References are a starting point, but I find that references supplied by candidates are becoming less useful every year--companies concerned about legal liability refuse to give references altogether, and many supervisors sugarcoat the performance of even employees that they've just fired. I put much more weight on whatever kind of reference I can find on my own--maybe from a coworker, a former customer, or someone who knew the candidate through a trade association.

I also like to simulate the actual work that the employee will perform. Typing tests, accounting tests, and sales and management decision-making scenarios have helped me make hiring decisions.

Even if the employee will report to me, I always get plenty of input from others, which also makes people feel more accepting of new hires.

* Source Streetwise Business Tips

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