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Top seven tips for savvy talent selection

With job growth on the rise in Colorado, is your business in a hiring mode or making plans to bring in new talent? Like many other companies you may be anxious to fill your current voids or add staff to support growth, but a word to the wise: be savvy with your selections.

Hiring the wrong candidates for the sake of getting someone in place is not only costly and time-consuming, it sets a negative tone with your existing employees and your overall business.  This is especially true for small companies or start-ups with fewer employees where staff additions or replacements have a seemingly larger effect on the team and on the culture of the organization.

Put simply, talent matters. Think of the hiring process as a subsector of your business -- the human business -- and plan accordingly. Here are a few tips on what it takes to hire well.

1. Assess your existing staff.  Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of those you already have in place is a critical first step to preparing to hire. You need to know what assets you currently have and where there are gaps. Think about matching existing styles for compatibility while also adding to the strengths or filling areas of need. Assessing your current staff also gives you an opportunity to understand the culture of the organization and the types of new hires that will fit well with your brand. 

2. Write a job description.  This seems obvious but all too often I see organizations that haven’t fully thought through what they need in a particular role. If it’s a role that someone filled before, this is a chance to re-evaluate.  What is the vision of your organization and does that impact the type of person you need to bring in now?  Don’t just hire to fill the position – hire to bring the position and your company to a new level. Lastly, make sure your website and/or career page provides a good snapshot of your company and culture.

3. Review resumes and look for the story.  Has someone moved around a lot?  Is there a story behind their moves or does their job track seem to lack focus? Do they have a personal brand that shines through so that it’s easy to see if their strengths match your company needs?  As you go through the initial screening process, look at the candidates overall background to tell a story and determine if the main character is someone you want to learn more about.

4. Create a standard list of questions and involve your existing staff/management team.  Work with your internal team or consultant to develop interview questions that will make it easy to compare notes. Provide an opportunity to debrief with all interviewers after each candidate to share your impressions and evaluations.  Each interviewer will likely have a different take on an individual and it’s important and relevant to hear all perceptions and take those into consideration.

Next, you’ll want to select the candidates with the best fit and conduct brief screening interviews.  Notice what they are like on the phone and if you have any reaction positive or negative to this initial contact.  After initial phone interviews have been conducted, prioritize and bring in the top few candidates to meet in person.  I find that clients get more emotionally attached once they’ve met someone in person so the key is to continue to stay objective in this phase.

5. Use an assessment tool to interview and screen final candidates.  Once you’ve narrowed down the pool of candidates to a select few, employ an assessment tool or screening test to determine with certainty that they have the “right” ingredients for this role and for your organization. These tests help predict a new hire’s on-the-job performance and make sure they match your hiring criteria. This will provide objective data and help you make sure you’ve made the best choice. 

6. Schedule a working interview.  If possible, ask the potential candidate to come in for a one-day interview where you both get hands on experience with one another.  Plan out a variety of activities throughout the day that will be part of their ongoing responsibilities and assess their aptitude for these skills and tasks.  In addition, see how you do with communication and cultural fit.  Yes, the person will likely be on their best behavior but you will learn more about them if you and the rest of your staff have the opportunity to engage with them for the day.

7. Develop an onboarding routine.  After you’ve hired the best person for the job, it’s critical to make the first few days a great experience. Plan the sequence for when they first arrive, the remainder of the day and week.  Is there a specific welcome planned? Is their paperwork in order?  Is their computer or other equipment or workspace set up on day one? We know that there is a direct correlation between an employee’s first day on the job and the longevity of their career with an organization, so set the stage for success.

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Mary Kaiser

Mary Kaiser is the founder of Start with Strengths, a Colorado-based professional consulting and coaching firm. Her experience includes over 25 years of growing leaders and teams for businesses across the country. Reach her at mary@startwithstrengths.com or connect at www.startwithstrengths.com.

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