Author: John Ryan

Most leaders like to think they have the hiring process wired – define the need, reach out to your network, interview three candidates and hire the best one. Honestly, we wish it could always be that simple; and for some roles, it is. So why do some of these new hires quit, or worse, have to be terminated within one year? Something was missing.

Over the years we’ve created a checklist that should be used for all key hires, and skipping even two checkpoints can increase the possibility of a mis-hire.

Only Hire Individuals Who Fit Your Culture
Most of the time leaders get this right, but some still get it wrong. When evaluating outsiders for a role with your company, Step 1 is to define your need. But Step 2 is to incorporate the personality traits this person will need to fit your team and be successful in your organization. Don’t ignore comments from your hiring team like, “I don’t think so-and-so will fit in here.” Some leaders like Tony Hsieh at Zappos are relentless when it comes to culture fit, and it pays off long term.

Connect the Dots
If you are looking for somebody to lead sales, and double sales within four years, focus on individuals who have done this before. Chances are they can do it again AND they learned a few new tricks which they can deploy in the new role. For key roles like a sales leader, if you are thinking about “taking a chance” the list of possible outcomes include a person struggling and leaving within a year.

A Village of Goods vs. a Village of Greats
We hate to point this out, but hiring the most affordable person for key roles is usually a bad idea. We know that this sort of compromise comes up all the time (especially in big public companies), but settling for less typically results in getting less too. We have yet to come across a market-leading company populated by mostly good folks, as opposed to mostly great folks. Makes sense when you think about it.

Read, Read, Read
Over the 23 years I’ve been involved in human resources, it’s still the case that most hiring managers have little time for interviewing, and still only spend a few hours with a potential hire. So let’s ask the question – How can we do more due diligence to assess the overall fit? Ask more questions. Write up a set of questions that you share out to interesting candidates, and evaluate what they write back. You can learn much more and as a bonus, you can read them while sitting around at the airport.

Hire for Tomorrow
This one is perhaps the trickiest. If your company is experiencing rapid growth, your hiring criteria will change. Whether it’s a big move into international markets or the development of new product lines, your team will need to add professionals who have worked for bigger, and in many cases, significantly more sophisticated companies. Some of your employees might feel threatened in the midst of this major change and may struggle with hires like these. Team alignment around the 5-year road map, steps to get there, and working together is key in forming cohesiveness between your team and your new hire.

So while we all know that going with your gut is how most of us make decisions, we can pack in more science in the form of gathering more information while also learning from all our past mistakes.