The secret to a successful hire


The secret to successful hiring is in the questions you ask at interview and in listening to the answers.  I mean really listening, not hearing, listening.

My first Boss once told me you have one mouth and two ears for a very good reason.  The more you use your ears and the less your mouth the more successful you will be he told me.

Picture this scene.  I am sitting in on an interview with another Boss.  He wants to approve (or otherwise) a hire he wants to make of someone for whom I will be responsible.  My reputation, my stock in this company depends very much on those people for whom I am responsible.  Therefore I have a vested interest in knowing as much as I can about this person before hiring them.

This was the best example of how not to interview I can possibly recall.  He talked “at” our prospective hire for an hour.  He sold her the dream ticket, painted a rosy picture of life as she would get to know it (an entirely inaccurate one I should stress) and then asked her when she could start.  He never asked her a single question.

Despite my protestations, she was hired.  It was a disaster, for her and for the business.   He told me that I was lucky to have her and that she would be a great addition to my team.  He didn’t know a thing about her other than what he read on her CV.  When it didnt work out it was my fault for having hired her.

Have a list of four or five key questions that you know will really test your candidate.  Ask them, sit back and really listen to the answers.  If you are not satisfied with the answers, don’t give up, keep asking questions and listening intently to the response until you are.  Sure, paint a picture of what life is like to work in your company.  An interview is a sales pitch both sides.  You need to inspire.  If you want success, bottom line you need to listen.

Ben Affleck in Boiler Room show’s us how to sell, how to inspire, how to paint a picture of life inside a company, but certainly not how to interview!

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2 Comments

Filed under Hiring, interview, Recruitment

2 responses to “The secret to a successful hire

  1. Rob Griffiths

    Interviewing a candidate without using any other recruitment intervention is a big risk even with experienced interviewers. They are not often aware of their own unconscious prejudices and subjectivity. With so many other recruitment tools available to reduce that risk it seems hard to understand why they would not be used to reduce the risk. Unless you worked for a complete buffoon as you clearly did in that situation 😉

    • I agree Rob (in particular with the reference to the Buffoon!). Unfortunately as I have mentioned in previous posts, much in recruiting is left to chance in a way that no other business process would be allowed to. It is too often a knee jerk reaction to a set of circumstances when it should be an integral part of any business planning process. Of course there are exceptions to any rule, but generally recruitment, retention and engagement are not done well enough. Last year employee turnover cost UK plc £42bn! If we spent more time, effort and resources to getting it right we could really impact people, business, productivity and profitability in so many positive ways. Huge thanks for your contribution and therefore for getting involved.

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