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The Hire Success® Blog

Sharing ideas on best practices to optimize the way companies hire, manage, and structure teams.

It’s Monday morning. Your ad to fill a key sales position is running. Your search to find the best person for the job is about to begin. You know what you’re looking for, and you can’t afford to hire the wrong person.

The ideal candidate for the job will be thorough, persuasive, and able to get along with other members of your team. The question is: how will you recognize that person? Can you prevent a bad hire?

Fortunately, it’s easy for you and your company to prevent bad hires by following 3 simple steps:

  1. prepare,
  2. assess,
  3. and act.

By following these steps, you can find the perfect candidate for any open position and set-up your company for success. Let’s get started.

How to Prevent A Bad Hire, Prepare Assess Act.

Step 1. Prepare a list of characteristics describing your perfect candidate.

Your first step to avoiding bad hires is to identify what makes someone a top candidate for a particular job. Before you narrow down your list of job applicants or start holding interviews, it’s best to develop a list of characteristics you’re looking for in a potential employee, and what might make a candidate a bad hire for your company. Will the right person be an introverted or extroverted worker? Do they see the big-picture or are they a detail-oriented person?

For inspiration, look at the people in your office who are successful in the same position. If you’re hiring for a sales position, take a look at the personality traits of your top salespeople. What do they have in common?

If you’re hiring an employee to fill an entirely new role, look at similar roles online and see what other companies are searching for in their candidates. This can help you formulate your ideal employee, which leads us to the next step: Assess.

Step 2. Assess your hiring process.

At most businesses, job screening criteria is often based on three things: background checks/references, education, and experience. While these things can be important, they may not be able to completely help you avoid hiring bad employees. They can also carry too much weight in your decision and unintentionally cause you to eliminate someone who maybe a great fit for your position.

Let’s take a look at these three areas:

Using background checks to prevent bad hires

Most employers fail to do background checks on job applicants. Even if your company does do background checks and/or makes reference calls, relying too much on background checks can offer some disadvantages.

Potential disadvantages of relying too much on background checks can include:

  • Increased risk of wasted time. Background checks often turn up with little or nothing of value, and in most cases, you won’t discover anything that will cause you to completely rule out a job applicant or actually prevent a bad hire. This can result in lost time for your company.
  • Potentially misleading references. Speaking with previous employers doesn’t offer much useful information, as previous employers could also be afraid of sharing negative information or getting into a possible lawsuit.
  • Positively skewed results. Job applicants will only give you a reference who will speak highly of them – and why wouldn’t they? Just because a candidate may have been a perfect fit for that job, that doesn’t mean that he or she may not be a bad hiring decision for you.

Although you should at least do due diligence through background checks, the information obtained can be costly, time-consuming and relatively useless at preventing a bad hire.

Checking for a potential hire’s education

Although having a proper education is important, it can be an artificial stumbling block that unfairly, and unwisely, screens out excellent candidates. Some of the highest paid CEOs in the country have only completed high school or one or two years of college. For instance, Bill Gates, the CEO of Microsoft, does not have a college degree.

A college education is essential for some jobs; however, there are also many positions where experience and personality have much more to do with success than education, and basing solely on education may produce a bad hire. The real question you need to ask is, “How well does someone’s education predict their ability to succeed in this job?”

Judging a candidate based on their past experience

Like education, experience is an important factor. However, lack of experience may not be a reason to disregard a job applicant or consider them a bad hiring decision.

Many employers use “performance-based” selection criteria instead. For instance, someone who has 2 years of successful sales experience may be better than someone with a lackluster sales career of 7 years. In certain cases, someone with no sales experience may be better than someone with the right number of years and a poor track record.

So if these three areas aren’t enough to help you find the right person, what should you look for? How can you interview and select the right people?

Measuring personality traits: The missing link

Too often, employers rely on the interview process to give them some insight into a person’s personality and whether they might be a bad hire or culture fit. The big danger for this approach is the assumption that if the interviewer “likes” their personality during the interview, then that person must be “ok” and he or she will be able to fit in with co-workers and will do a good job.

Just because you like the person does not guarantee their success on the job or that they won’t be a bad hire. In fact, there may be many examples where the people most likely to succeed could be the ones you like least.

Predetermining the criteria you will use for the selection process before you begin hiring (as in Step #1), helps keep your personal preferences out of the profile – and helps you make more objective choices overall.

Testing the most successful employees currently employed in the position you’re hiring for – and using their statistical data to develop a “baseline” – not only improves objectivity, but also helps you quickly and easily identify people who have what it takes to be successful in the position you’re trying to fill.

By doing pre-employment personality testing like Hire Success with all your current employees, you’ll have a much better idea of the traits you’re looking for. You may also find that having the right personality profile can be more important than having a high level of education or work experience.

You don't need to worry about hiring the wrong person— request a free preview of the Hire Success personality testing system and start making the right hiring decisions today.

 

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Step 3. Act.

Once you’ve had a chance to establish your criteria and determine the kind of personality traits you’re looking for, you’ll be able to develop much better interview questions – and avoid the ones that everyone’s already heard and prepared for, such as, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” When trying to avoid hiring bad employees, using strategic interview questions can be your final prevention method.

With pre-employment personality testing, you can tailor your questions to real-life situations the person may encounter on the job. For a sales position, you might ask:

  • “When do you feel uncomfortable in a cold-call situation?”
  • “How many times will you leave a voice message for someone you’re cold-calling before you stop trying to contact them?”
  • “What do you say to a prospect’s secretary who won’t put you through until thoroughly investigating the purpose of your call?”

Seeing how a job applicant responds to these types of questions will tell you far more about what to expect if you hire the person and their potential for being a bad hiring decision. Chances are, they’ve never been asked questions like these and you’ll get to see how they think through the situation and respond.

When you use the Hire Success® Personality Profile, you’ll receive several pages of Sample Interview Questions, complete with the reasons why you may wish to ask the questions. All questions we provide relate to business-oriented aspects of the candidate’s personality and can provide insight, making it easier to conduct a more in-depth interview.

Now you can determine exactly what traits you’re looking for, ask the right questions and prevent bad hires!

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