Hiring RIGHT the FIRST Time

When you don’t have time or money to do it over…

The most important task for a business owner or CEO is getting the right people in the right jobs doing the right things.

This is one of three critical responsibilities a business owner or CEO simply cannot delegate.


  • “Top performing people out-produce other people in the same job by a ratio of at least 2-to-1”  (Research from Profiles International, Inc.)
  • When an employee leaves, “…you’re going to lose 2 ½  times the person’s annual salary, whether they’re entry-level or management” (Dr. Pierre Mornell as quoted in Nations Business)

Yet, “Chances are good that up to 66% of your company’s hiring decisions will prove to be mistakes in the first twelve months.” (Peter Drucker)

Selecting the right candidate the first time around is worth investing a little time and thought. No one can guarantee 100% success, but you can dramatically improve your odds with a structured recruiting process that is both effective and repeatable.

Here’s the five-step process I teach my clients to apply:

  1. Know the Critical Success Factors for This Job. Get clear on the critical success factors for the job – what characteristics will be displayed day-in and day-out by a truly successful employee in this job?  What are the key characteristics (key competencies) of other highly successful employees in this job? And, what skills would take your team to the next level of performance if you could add those skills to the mix of talent already on board?
  2. Recruit Proactively, not Reactively. Seek out people with the skills you need. They may currently be employed and happy. Or they may be actively looking for a job. But don’t rely on simply posting your job and seeing who applies. Be proactive. Ask for recommendations from people you trust, search professional online networks, contact people doing the same work elsewhere.
  3. Look for Attitude, Flexibility, Adaptability, Creativity and Initiative. Look for candidates with the talent and experience you need, but also focus on important personality characteristics such as attitude, flexibility, adaptability, creativity and initiative. Don’t get so focused on hiring someone with just exactly the right experience that you lose sight of the other factors that will make you glad to have this person on your team. As Herb Kelleher, CEO, Southwest Airlines, has said “We’ll train you on whatever it is you have to do; but the one thing Southwest cannot change in people is inherent attitudes.“
  4. Add an Assessment. Assessments are incredibly effective today at identifying behavioral characteristics, work styles, communication styles and interaction preferences. As one factor in the selection process, assessments can help you identify whether the candidate has the honesty, work ethic and reliability you need. Assessments can also help you identify candidates who are more likely, or less likely, to be successful in a given position, a good fit for the job, and a good fit for your company’s culture.
  5. Use Structured Behavioral Interviewing. As the final step in your selection process, learn how to apply the proven techniques of structured behavioral interviewing. Behavioral Interviewing focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related. It is based on the understanding that past behavior and performance is the best predictor of future behavior and performance. Structured behavioral interviewing establishes a repeatable process consistently applied across all candidates for a given position. Clients who use this interviewing technique are often surprised by how quickly the process identifies the “best right candidate” among the three or four candidates interviewed.

Upon identifying the candidate you want to hire, extend your employment offer conditioned on completion of a thorough background check (criminal record, education, certifications, references) and drug screening. The first day of employment should not occur until the background check and drug screening are complete!

Every hiring opportunity is an opportunity to improve your team and your company. A bad hire can be an instant drag on company and team performance. Correcting the mistake takes time, expense and lost opportunity. When you improve your odds of making that best right hire, you accelerate your company’s performance improvement trajectory.

Note: Every hiring process additionally needs to include the right application forms, disclosures, consent forms, and record keeping to meet legal requirements and prudent risk management requirements, including awareness of the legal issues associated with what one can and cannot ask, or can and cannot consider, in the interviewing and hiring process to be within anti-discrimination and equal employment laws. But that is a discussion beyond the scope of this article.

When employees drive your business success…
You need to talk with me.

Schedule a time for our conversation by
emailing me via the Contact page or calling me at:
An initial phone conversation is free,
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