Making Smart Hires: 4 Steps for Getting the Right People

I recently heard a collection manager of a major collections organization tell me “You have to hire 10 collectors just to get one decent one”.  I have certainly felt that way before.  You hire someone and bring him or her all the way through the hiring process just to have him or her quit or fall short of expectations.  It’s a tough business; demands and stress are often high and some folks just don’t survive.  As a result, we are almost constantly in the hiring process.

Even with an increase in unemployment, many in our industry are still struggling with turnover.  Ensuring you are hiring the right person is the first step to keeping that employee.  If done right, you have hired the person with the right attitude and skill set for the position.  They understand their role and the expectations that have been set for them and are prepared to be successful.

Know What You Want
Before you ever begin hiring, you need to decide what skill set you are in need of, and have a firm handle on your culture.   Spend some time looking at other individuals who are successful in the organization and try to figure out what skills they have that others lack.  Understand the type of person who is going to work in whatever position you are filling.

Target the Right People
Once you have established the necessary criteria, start targeting those individuals that fit the bill.  Take your time. It’s better to post an ad and have five qualified individuals apply than it is have 100 unqualified candidates send you a resume.  Write a draft and have successful employees read it and get their feedback.  If the ad doesn’t work, and you don’t get the type of applicants you are looking for, then make changes and try again.  Be specific.

Ask Good Questions
Once you are interviewing a new prospect, make sure you are asking the right questions.  Ask questions that get at the heart of those skills that you want.  Don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper and ensure they know more than the catch phrases. Ask questions that an applicant is not expecting and watch them think on their feet.  My personal favorite was to hand an applicant the pen I was using to take notes and ask them to “sell” it back to me.  It forced them to think and it took them out of their comfort zone.

Set Clear Expectations
The interview is your chance to establish expectations for your prospective employee.  They should understand that the commitment they have to excellence and meeting or exceeding goals is paramount.  They should also have realistic expectations of the environment they will be working in and of their immediate supervisors.  A hiring manager will make themselves part of the problem rather than the solution if they are not upfront with the people they hire.

The battle for keeping effective and long lasting employees starts before you ever meet them.  An organization should be clear of whom they are looking for, ensure that those they target for employment meet that criteria, and then extend that clarity onto your prospect when discussing your expectations for them.  In so doing, you will find individuals that are more motivated to help you and your organization succeed.