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How to Hire the Right People, and Ultimately Save Money and Time

Posted by Mary Bradbury Jones on August 25, 2016

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There’s something exciting about getting your business to the point of being able to bring on new employees. Your business is growing and you’re successful enough to be able to hire people to share some of the load.

On the other hand, there’s something tricky about hiring the right person for the job. As a manager or business owner, there’s a lot on the line in terms workplace culture and customer service quality, not to mention the time and resources it takes to train them. Hiring the wrong person and having them leave is something all companies seek to avoid, but it does happen.

As you likely already know, hiring the right person for the job isn’t always an exact science. And hiring the wrong person can result in a lot of headache in terms of time, money, and resources to once again fill in the gaps when they leave.

However, there are some time-tested strategies and tactics you can use to find a good long-term fit for both the job and your company. Here’s how to hire the right people, and ultimately make the most of the time and money you’re investing.

1. Know what you’re seeking

Based on your management style and company culture, you should already have a good idea of what type of employees would be best suited to work for you. If you’re hiring for a fun hospitality brand, for example, you probably know that you want someone who’s friendly, energetic and service-oriented. If your company culture isn’t yet defined, you can take steps like defining common values everyone will share and deciding your organization’s guiding purpose.

Before you post a job description or begin interviewing candidates, clearly define what kind of person you’re seeking, as well as the skill set they’ll need in order to succeed on the job. Just as you want to know the qualities of an ideal candidate, you’ll also want to be conscious of specific cues of someone you’d probably want to avoid hiring. Here are some things to consider:

  • Detail orientation - Some jobs require a high level of detail, and others not so much. Know which is required for different roles.
  • Interpersonal skills - Various roles demand a lot of interpersonal skills and leadership. Get a good read if candidates are at the level they need for that job.
  • Career Ambition - You want to gauge where candidates want to go in the future and hire people who are hungry for success, and willing to grow with the business.
  • Multi-tasking - Many jobs require a person to juggle different tasks and “wear many hats.” If you’re hiring for one of those jobs, make sure they’ve had success in a similar position before.

2. Be very specific in your job description

Job seekers can automatically tell if a job description seems to be all over the place, and they’ll immediately be turned off by it. Vague job descriptions are actually one of the top “turn offs” to candidates in the recruiting process. In general, applicants are seeking a clearly defined role which highlights their strengths and for which they feel comfortable applying. Make sure the description is relevant to the position, and doesn’t include extraneous duties.

For example, if you’re hiring for a marketing position, a job description that includes a handful of accounting duties will likely drive away the people you really want to hire. This means being as straightforward as possible about the details of what the job will actually entail. While you don’t want to scare anyone away, it’s important that they understand what the expectations will be going in.

3. Filter applicants with pre-determined criteria

Don’t make the mistake of processing and interviewing each and every person who applies for the job. You want to have some kind of process to filter candidates down to only those who are a good fit. This will avoid wasting your time or theirs.

You can create pre-determined filters to weed out the bad candidates. These should be used across the board so you are fairly examining each candidate. For example, start by providing specific instructions in the job posting. If they don’t follow those instructions, and attention to detail is an important part of the job, then you’ll know to eliminate those individuals.

If applicable, you can also ask for portfolio examples or request that they complete a brief trial assignment. You can also have people answer specific questions up front regarding their skills, qualifications and why they think they’re a good fit instead of just requiring a generic cover letter,.

4. Ask the right questions

There are a ton of different questions you’ll be able to ask during an interview, but some are more effective than others. In general, more open-ended questions have been a staple for hiring managers, and for good reason. It’s always important to familiarize yourself with the applicant’s resume, and tailor your questions accordingly. Use behavioral and situational questions as a great way to get a “well-rounded” view of both the candidate’s experience and approach to decision-making.

These types of questions are usually experience based, addressing how they handled various situations in the past. For example, “On your resume you talk about spearheading a software migration initiative at your previous company. What challenges did you experience during this process and how did you overcome them?” These kinds of questions show applicants you’ve done your homework, analyzed their resume and tailored a question to pinpoint a specific experience that you’d like to learn more about.

Take the time to be sure your hiring managers are trained and prepared for any interview. There are not only best practices to follow, but very important legal guidelines your interviewers need to familiarize themselves with.

5. Listen to what candidates really have to say

Avoid doing all of the talking during interviews. While it’s important to let them know what’s great about working at your company, being a great listener can pay dividends when it comes to making the right hire.

Keep in mind, just as you’re looking for nonverbal cues from them, they’re looking for those same unspoken signals from you as well. Be attentive, don’t let yourself be interrupted by your phone or email, and listen carefully to what your potential employee has to say. Not only will listening give you a better idea of who the candidate is and whether they’d be a good fit, it gives the applicant a chance to really shine by highlighting their strengths.

One final note on listening: Be understanding and patient; interviews can be stressful and especially for some personalities and roles, candidates might not be giving the best answer possible, but if you read between the lines you can get to the bottom of it.

6. Offer competitive salaries

This might seem obvious at first, but you shouldn’t rely solely on things like perks, location, or work environment to attract the right people. At the end of the day, employees want to feel valued, and offering competitive salaries within your industry is one of the best ways to increase employee retention. While the notion of cost containment might sound tempting, offering below average salaries and requiring long hours is a recipe for employee burnout. If you don’t want your turnover rate to skyrocket, simply make sure to pay people what they’re worth.

>>> Learn more about Hiring Success

Why hiring (and keeping) the right employees saves time and money

Hiring new employees is a big investment on your part, from the recruiting process all the way down to training and onboarding. If that person isn’t the right fit and ends up leaving the company, there are heavy costs associated with that employee turnover. On average, employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary to find, hire, and train their replacement. This includes the cost of training and onboarding, interviewing, advertising the new position, lowered morale, decreased new hire productivity, and diminished service capabilities. By taking a holistic view of the impact of employee turnover, it becomes even more apparent that hiring the right person from the start will save significant time, money and energy down the road.

So how much does it cost to hire new employees? The answer is, a lot less than it will take to find their replacement if you pick the wrong person. Heed the above tips, and you’ll be on the right track for  making the most appropriate hiring decisions the first time around.

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The Oregon Small Business Development Center Portland Community College has  helped thousands of businesses over the past 30 years. We combine one-on-one  advising with programs taught by business experts, giving our clients the  resources they need to grow their businesses. We’ve celebrated many successes  with our clients. We'd love to celebrate your success. 

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