Streetwise Advice: Tips on Hiring

Best Candidate

Be sure to hire the best candidate for the job—not merely the most talented job seeker. In other words, just because somebody has a more polished-looking resume or is more articulate at the job interview doesn’t mean that he or she is necessarily a better worker. Some people, for example, become very good at job hunting because they or their employers are never happy about their work and they are constantly interviewing for jobs!

Most Qualified Versus Most Motivated

Most candidates you interview for the job, especially in the later stages of the hiring process, are going to be able to perform the basics of the job. And often their innate skill sets or experience may not be materially different.

But the real key is trying to find which candidate is going to be most motivated to do the job day in and day out for years to come—which one is going to work hardest, add to the positive atmosphere in the office, work well with others, and stay with your company for a long period of time.

Often I find that this is not the candidate who profusely sells his or her enthusiasm the loudest during the job interview—more often, it is the quiet candidate who undersells his or her achievements and capabilities.

Furthermore, the very best candidates in terms of experience, track record, and overall background may sometimes feel that they are a little overqualified and may even view your job opening as a “backup position” that they are not particularly excited about and are just using as a placeholder until they find something better. It can be difficult and subtle to judge a candidate’s true enthusiasm for your company and the position, but you need to do your best in trying to judge this critical element.


Be leery of putting too much weight on positive references—virtually everyone has some positive references. Sometimes people even give positive references for people they have fired because they fear legal action, want to get them off unemployment because their company is indirectly paying for it, or just want to “help out” the job candidate.

Second Interviews

Conduct at least two interviews with a candidate before hiring him or her, especially if the position is very important. Candidates often relax and let their guard down somewhat during a second interview. This will give you a chance to “meet” the real person. It is entirely possible that you will get a different impression of a candidate during a second interview. Sometimes, a candidate will even respond differently to the same questions asked at the first interview!

Two Interviewers

Just when I think I’ve been doing pretty well at hiring people, I make a big hiring mistake that, in retrospect, I should have realized in advance. It happens to everyone. Hiring is not a perfect process—it is highly subjective and based on a good deal of soft information. So, whenever possible, have at least one other person carefully interview the final candidates for a position. A fresh perspective may surprise you.

Set Questions

Although it will take a time investment, you should have a strong list of questions ready before you begin interviewing a candidate. When interviewing multiple candidates for the same position, ask the same questions of each prospect in exactly the same manner, at least in initial interview rounds. This will allow you to fairly compare candidate responses.

About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.