Hire the Right Person for the Job

October 4, 2018

Written by: Dorene Burkhalter, Leadership Consultant

“Why didn’t I catch this in the interview?” he shares with me.  “I thought he was the perfect candidate.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could turn an interview session into an interrogation in an effort to get to the candidate’s deepest-rooted “issues?”  Slap on a lie detector.  Call everyone they know and ask personal things.  Why not run a bunch of psychological tests on them; heck let’s even draw blood!  You know that enters into the realm of illegal, right?  Statistically, no matter how hard we try to find the perfect person to fill our open position, we’re likely to have a five percent error rate.  But, how can you do a better job hiring the right person and reduce your error rate to just five percent?


Industrial/Organizational Psychologists have studied this very topic for years and have proven methods to help you.  Here are some of the tactics to consider:


  1. As a manager, do you work with your recruiter to identify the minimal qualifications for the job and the questions your recruiter should ask when screening the candidate to decide if he or she is worthy of your leaderships’ interview time?
  2. How realistic are you when describing the organizational culture and job climate? Research has shown that painting a rosy picture of the organization increases voluntary turnover due to the candidate feeling lied to once they learn the actual culture and job climate.
  3. Have you identified with your recruiter the most cost effective tiers (or steps) the candidate will go through during the selection process to weed out the less desired candidates so you can spend more time interacting with the superior candidates?
  4. Did you know that 40% of a resume is false? It’s important for you to plan out probing questions regarding the resume prior to the interview.  For example, the resume may describe the person as having more responsibility than they actually possessed.  Asking the candidate to describe what they were responsible for should give you a more valid interpretation of their level of responsibility.
  5. During the interview, we tend to inquire more about skills than interpersonal attributes needed for the job. But believe me; you’ll want to fire a person for their lack of interpersonal abilities far more than for their level of expertise!  So make sure you identify interpersonal competencies that you want to assess during an interview.
  6. Use behavioral and situational interview questions to assess key job competencies. Past performance predicts future behavior.  A behavioral interview question usually begins with, “Give me an example from one of your past jobs…the most difficult customer you were able to satisfy, or the most creative solution you identified to solve a work-related problem, or how you juggled multiple priorities.
  7. Don’t send a candidate to be interviewed separately with several different people. The worst impression you can make with a candidate is to take up half or all of their vacation day meeting with different people who ask the same questions over and over again.  Conduct panel interviews.  The candidate will walk out with the impression that this organization has its act together!
  8. A hiring decision needs to be triangulated. That means three variables should be used to assist you in making an objective decision – historical data (resume and reference checks), the interview, and testing.  Don’t be afraid of applicant testing.  There are tools out there today that have been created just for assisting in hiring decisions, so they are well validated and reliable.  Just make sure you work with an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist to assist you in selecting the assessments that are right for the job.

One last yet very important item to retaining great hires is your onboarding.  And I mean beyond your organization/human resources onboarding program.  Managers need to have a 30-60-90 day plan which identifies proficiencies to be reached within 90 days and a development plan to help them accomplish those performance expectations.