Are You Trying To Buy A New Friend Or Just Rent Specific Performance?

One of the biggest mistakes any hiring authority makes is trying to hire "too big." What does that even mean?

It means that often a business owner, for example,​ tries to find everything right in a new candidate as if he or she is interviewing to be your new friend. So you might want to know about hobbies, friends, family situation or any other miscellaneous subject. Some people call it finding common ground. At the start, it's a waste of time.

Not only are those subjects irrelevant, but some questions off point may also be illegal. (Check with your own attorney for guidelines. I am not a professional of any kind and this is not legal advice.)

Almost nobody presents​ any negatives when they're applying for a new job, anyway, do they?

Only Two Things Are Important

In my mind, there's only two qualities I look for in a new hire. The first centers around past performance as it relates to the job I have open. So anything performance-oriented is fair game in an interview. That means check and confirm everything!​

So if a candidate tells me her or she graduated from college​, it's got to be proven. I want to see the certification of graduation from the school. And I'd even call the school listed and ask for confirmation. I don't mind doing it while the candidate is across from me in my office. If somebody received an award that's listed on a resume, I want to see the award or certificate or whatever in person and in my hot little hands.

If a person lists a specific performance achievement in a former job, I want to see corroborating, third party evidence; an email of congratulations, a letter, or any proof that the achievement was real. Some internal company document that proves the claim.

The first concern - the performance aspect - is where I like to really drill down.

So, I want to know about how certain situations were handled by the past. The person in front of me is going to have to reveal how he was trained in the business. What lessons has he learned on his own? Fire up the grill, heat up the coals, and pop that potential new hire right onto the grilling surface. Understand, that's just a metaphor. I just mean dig for all the dirty little secrets and behaviors that lead to great performance in a former position.

If it's appropriate to invest the time, I'd do this drill down on every previous job. Take copious notes!​

President R​eagan's famous quote applies here, "Trust, but verify."

The Second Concern Is Covered Behind The Scenes.​

The second area of concern is the applicants softer skills: Is he a team player? Does he get along with others? How does she deal with authority and how does she treat the people below her in the pecking order. In order to obtain this information, you'll need to contact former associates who can speak to personal characteristics...not to performance issues or stuff like "was James fired?"  

Depending on the importance of the position, I'd call in the experts. Get written permission from the candidate for a drug test, a lie-detector test, a credit check and a criminal background check. And, yes, I've undergone testing like this in the past. Every one of them (not all in the same job).

  • A drug test -
  • A lie-detector test...
  • A credit check and -
  • A criminal background check.
  • And an interview with an industrial psychologist.

And, yes, I've personally undergone every one of these tests - not all at one time. The ones I've underlined above seem to me to be the most important. As we read of more and more workplace violence, the mental health of an employee is a critical element. I've worked with crazy and, actually, fired crazy. Wasn't much fun for anyone.

If you haven't read my publication, "You're Fired...How To Conduct A Positive And Productive Termination Event," I want you to have a copy of it free. Get it here.​

Your Hiring Requirements Should Be Quantifiable.

One of the keys having better odds when hiring somebody new is to have a really clear picture of what the behavior of a successful employee in that job looks like. That behavior "profile" is much more helpful if it is based on quantifiable metrics.​

​I realize that metrics can take you only so far. But a realistic assessment of what the job takes is essential to help your new hire succeed. 

My interview with a Senior Sales Director of a division of a Fortune 500 company resulted in the kind of knowledge about which I am advising. Vincent Smith is a high level corporate executive with HomeAdvisor.Com.​ Sales reps in his division must met certain basic requirement to even stay on the job.

At HomeAdvisor.Com the reps job is to make outgoing calls to contractors across the USA and Canada to drum up new members. When I asked Vincent what his first requirement for a successful hire was, he immediately said "150 calls a day." No hesitation.​ No thinking about it. That was his ironclad rule #1 what it came to success for his staff.

Out-Of Office Behavior Is Irrelevant​

Unless your employee becomes a criminal or behaves off-the-job in a way that is detrimental to your organization, it just doesn't matter. If you have the right language in your employee manual that allows you to terminate for such behavior, you're good. I certainly hope you're not planning to hang with the new employee outside of work.

Remember, you're not buying a new friend​, you're just renting specific behavior and expected results. The key to the entire exercise is to bring on somebody who - through on-the-job actions - give you the results for which you are paying.

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