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Look Before You Leap: 10 Tips for Making Great Hires

Making Great Hires

Making great hires is a challenge. When you're in a rush, hastiness gets in your eyes and your ears.

Too often when we are overly enthusiastic about an undertaking, growing an organization or a company, we may enter into partnerships or hire people based on what they say they can do, before we check it out. Part of that is because we are just too eager to move forward, don't want to confront someone about what they say (i.e. imply they are lying) or are just too A.D.D. to have the patience.

Hiring the wrong person is not easily undone. If you ask the following of someone you are thinking of hiring or partnering with, you have a better chance of preventing that.

1.  Verifiable – “Please provide us with references of people who you have worked with and we will check them out regarding the following...” Be diligent about checking references and focus your questions around the activities, projects, and accomplishments your candidate is claiming to have participated in.

2.  Recent – “What have you done in the recent past, as in last eighteen months?” The shorter the time lapse, the easier it is to hit the ground running.

3.  Relevant – “What is it about your accomplishments that are most relevant for this job?” Keep in mind you'll always have a better understanding of "your job requirements" than your candidate's perception of the role... so don't get too critical here.

4.  Positive – “What positive and negative outcomes(s) did you achieve and what did you learn from each?” It’s okay for people to make mistakes. You just don’t want people who keep repeating the same mistakes without learning from them.

5.  Measurable – “What were the measurable outcomes that you were able to achieve?” Metrics, metrics, metrics. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.  This is a great opportunity to set expectations observe the candidate's reaction to the goals and measurements you discuss.

6.  Results – “What were the actual results you achieved?” You don’t want to hear things that are too subjective and intangible. Seeing is believing.  If the candidate's resume claims they won an award... invite them to bring it to the interview.

7.  Because of you – “Which of the positive, measurable results above did you actually play key role in achieving success, as opposed to being in the right place at the right time? ...what exactly did you do?” Take time to identify which of the results they were actually responsible for vs. riding along on the coat tails of other people’s success.

8.  Taking initiative – “Tell me about your track record and your ability to get things done when you hit obstacles and setbacks?" Ask for specific examples. Listen for how they respond to challenges. Are they passive and wait until someone else steps in or do they take initiative?

9.  Accessing resources – “What is your track record for accessing external resources outside of yourself and outside the group you work with. Give an example of how you went about doing that?” You are looking for people that can tap into and leverage outside resources to help drive a project forward.

10.  Sustainable without you – “What have you accomplished that set things into motion and was able to sustain itself even when you weren't around? ...please give an example.” Look for people who work collaboratively and cooperatively with others, and do so in a way that allows for continued success, beyond their personal involvement.

If this sounds like too much work, it pales in comparison to the work it will take to undo  hiring someone you should have said, "No," to.  Look before you leap, and you'll build a reputation for making great hires.

Share your tips...  What interview questions and activities do you put candidates through to help you in making great hires?

Mark Goulston


Mark Goulston

Mark Goulston is the Co-Founder of Heartfelt Leadership, a global community whose Vision is a World led by leaders that Dare to Care and whose Mission is Identifying, Celebrating, Developing, Empowering, Impassioning and Emboldening Heartfelt Leaders to support each other in changing the world for the better. Mark is the author of Just Listen and co-author of Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In.


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