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How to Hire the Best Employees

 Pamela (aka Sky­d­weller) is an ana­lyst (dubbed by her hus­band as a Quan­ti­ta­tively Tran­scen­dent Pul­chri­tudi­nous Infor­mat­ics Execu­tor) and writer. Her inter­ests and hob­bies include busi­ness, research, analy­sis, real estate con­sult­ing, mar­ket­ing, psy­chol­ogy, process improve­ment, read­ing, writ­ing, and sculpt­ing. Read more from this author

I was read­ing a highly respected colleague’s blog ( and was inspired to add my 2 cents (to the 100th power) on the man­age­ment side:

When hir­ing, note and give weight to edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­ence, but allow assess­ment of the candidate’s char­ac­ter, mind­set, atti­tude, and abil­ity to lead you to the right fit.

Today’s well edu­cated grad­u­ates still include a high num­ber of indi­vid­u­als are “book smart and life stu­pid”. Many with a wealth of expe­ri­ence or long-time runs have become stag­nant and complacent.

Use the resume to rule in rather than rule out
The big­ger your selec­tion pool, the more choices you have in terms of integrity, intel­li­gence, drive, and other char­ac­ter traits. Use the inter­view to do the real work to find your diamond(s) in the rough. More time and focus on behav­ioral inter­view­ing and pin­ning down the candidate’s true inten­tions and goals will pay off expo­nen­tially when you hire a winner.

Iden­tify first your real needs then the candidate’s rel­e­vant trans­fer­able skills and knowl­edge.
Does the job really require Excel expe­ri­ence? This is rarely true. Usu­ally the REAL need is for a can­di­date who knows and under­stands spread­sheets, work­books, for­mu­las, charts, pivot tables, etc. That’s all trans­fer­able knowl­edge, and pro­grams like Excel, Lotus, Open Office, etc. are just places to apply that knowl­ege (hence the term “application”)

If the job requires A+ cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, many peo­ple for­get that the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is sim­ply a method of pro­vid­ing quick, ver­i­fi­able “proof” that the can­di­date has the knowl­edge required to pass the A+ require­ments — at least in test­ing. The REAL need is prob­a­bly for a can­di­date who under­stands hard­ware. If they’re miss­ing A+ but have been tak­ing apart com­put­ers and tin­ker­ing around with them since they were 12, then chances are high they pos­sess the real trans­fer­able skills you need.

Auto-disqualification of can­di­dates due to edu­ca­tion, expe­ri­ence, etc. with­out first exam­in­ing whether the can­di­date has a non-traditional alter­na­tive that is of equiv­a­lent or higher value. Dis­qual­i­fy­ing the above can­di­date for lack of Excel is miss­ing the for­est for the trees. Dis­qual­i­fy­ing a kid fresh out of col­lege in favor of a 15-year vet­eran is poor judg­ment if the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion is based solely on the fact he/she’s a “kid”. In one case, after a bat­tle royale among the deci­sion mak­ers, the “kid” was hired and ended up trans­form­ing a huge sys­tem for bet­ter effi­ciency, secu­rity, and vis­i­bil­ity on a wide scale in a short period of time result­ing in great sav­ings and inter­nal cus­tomer satisfaction.

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener.
Pick the crops clos­est to you rather than assum­ing the grass might be greener in another depart­ment, com­pany, even state. Regard­less of mar­ket, there are almost always good, solid, and remark­ably tal­ented can­di­dates locally for what you need. Look within first, then branch out only as far as you must to find the best candidate.

Cul­ti­vate Strengths; Dif­fuse Weak­nesses.
Iden­tify and cul­ti­vate people’s strengths. Think of their strengths as your build­ing mate­ri­als and their weak­nesses as every­day tools. Peo­ple do not fit in a box, and you do not have time to man­age forc­ing every­one to use their strengths and weak­nesses equally. It’s inef­fi­cient and makes work­ers and their bosses unhappy. Instead, weave. Over­lap­ping one’s strengths to help cover another’s weak­nesses allows both par­ties to focus on what they’re good at result­ing in faster, bet­ter qual­ity pro­duc­tion, hap­pier employ­ees, and hap­pier management.

Loy­alty to your employ­ees is very, very impor­tant, but it has to go both ways.
A fair exchange must be involved. Loy­alty TO YOURSELF and what you have earned is some­thing you must insist upon — from your­self. Stand behind the stan­dard you have set in order to be truly loyal to your com­pany and your employee(s). Do not allow per­sonal sym­pa­thy, empa­thy and deep con­cern to drive your deci­sions. Have and con­vey sym­pa­thy? Cer­tainly. Feel deep con­cern? Admirable. Love a buddy to the death? It’s great to have good friends.
Bot­tom line? Being per­son­ally impacted by another per­son or event is human and cer­tainly ok in the work­place as long as your emo­tional responses are in check and in bal­ance with your busi­ness decisions.

Car­ry­ing your buddy along because he/she was there with you in the trenches, has always been there for you, has a good heart and means well is a huge mis­take if your buddy isn’t suited for the job. Your rep­u­ta­tion will suf­fer, and it’s even a dis­fa­vor to your buddy. His suc­cess is tied to you until he is a fit for the posi­tion; if he loses your pro­tec­tion he’s out of luck, and if he’s not fit for his posi­tion it’s likely he will soon be out of a job.

Watch for action-oriented indi­vid­u­als.
These make your best dri­vers. It’s bet­ter to have to pull them back than to have to keep pick­ing them up, putting them on the road, and push­ing them for­ward. How exhausting!

Encour­age employee own­er­ship and autonomous work.
Once fully trained, let employ­ees han­dle their deliv­er­ables their own way, and report their results to you. Ensure they know you are there to sup­port and help, not to be a heli­copter. Always keep your eyes open for ways to extend own­er­ship all the way down to your front line. Own­er­ship paired with good lead­er­ship by the boss inspires invest­ment in suc­cess, higher aware­ness, urgency, and faster align­ment with team, group, and com­pany mis­sions and goals. It also enables lead­ers to iden­tify their high achiev­ers and future lead­ers much more effec­tively as those indi­vid­u­als nat­u­rally float to the top. Del­e­gate and man­age by excep­tion wher­ever pos­si­ble and reasonable.

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Posted by on December 9, 2009.

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Categories: business, LinkedIn

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