Use This Six-point System to Hire the Best Candidates

In the process of writing the my 4th edition of Hire with Your Head, the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., wanted to know what has changed from when the first edition was published in 1997.
Not much, I said. Despite the enormous investment in technology and process improvement, companies still struggle to find enough top-tier talent to fill high-demand positions just like they did 20 years ago; they just struggle differently now.
The problem, as I see it, is an emphasis on being more efficient at a few of the steps in the hiring process rather than being more effective overall. For example, being more efficient screening applications is not necessarily a great idea if the best people don’t apply. In this case, it would be better to find out how to attract the best people and keep them interested and engaged at every step until they’re hired and on-boarded.
Despite the nod of agreement, this caused a bit of a glazed look on my publisher, so I drew a chart like the following on the whiteboard.
As the table was being drawn, I contended that most of the people involved in hiring viewed each of the steps in the first column as separate independent actions rather than sub-steps of a bigger system. The “X” indicates where each step has an impact on another step. In this instance, the job description impacts every step from the initial posting to after the person is hired, including the onboarding and performance management process.
By linking the steps together, the purpose of the entire hiring process will shift to attracting people who can not only do the work but who will also accept a fair offer and perform at peak levels once on the job. The premise of the new edition of Hire with Your Head will be to demonstrate through case studies how the Performance-based Hiring process has been used to achieve this objective and how any company can use a similar approach.

Think system, not steps, to maximize quality of hire

Here’s a quick overview of how each step needs to be designed to achieve the overriding objective of hiring a top performer who will both excel and be satisfied once on the job.
  • Define the real job: Start by asking what the person needs to do to be considered successful rather than what the person needs to have. Then ask, “Why would a top person want this job if he/she already has a great one?” This will be used to attract the most suitable talent.
  • Find the strongest talent: Seek out prequalified candidates who can not only do the work as defined above but would also see the job as a career opportunity worth considering. This will increase their response rates.
  • Understand the assessment goes both ways: The interview needs to be both a recruiting and assessment tool. Most interviews are one-sided, minimizing the fact that the best people are also making a critical decision.
  • Define the job as a career move: Compete for the strongest talent by offering the best career move, not the biggest compensation package. To do this you must define the job as a career move, not a list of skills and prerequisites.
  • Use onboarding to clarify expectations: The actual performance objectives of the job need to match how the person was assessed and why he/she accepted an offer. This way what the person will actually be doing won’t be a surprise.
  • Manage performance and employee development: Hire with the end in mind. In this case, the end is hiring a great person who performs at peak levels and is highly satisfied with the job and where his/her career is going.
Bottomline, the new edition of Hire with Your Head will emphasize how technology needs to be leveraged to create a true integrated business process for hiring. But the most important step is the one that impacts all of the others – to hire successful performers in the end, you must define successful performance in the beginning.