Professional Jeweler Archive: Hiring for Keeps

December 2002


Hiring for Keeps

Here's the way to recruit, interview and land the best people for your business

Goals, vision and strategy, as important as they are to any organization, are irrelevant without the right people to execute them. In fact, a great dream with the wrong team is a nightmare. There’s nothing you can do as a leader that brings a bigger return than finding and developing the right people. Following are nine points that make up the centerpiece of any effective recruiting, interviewing and hiring strategy.

1. Highly developed leaders should do the hiring. The Law Of Attraction states you attract into your business what you are, not what you want. On a scale of 1 to 10, if you have 4s conducting interviews, they tend to hire 2s and 3s. Lower-level managers won’t bring anyone on board they see as a threat. They’re looking for the easy-to-control, compliant candidate.

2. Dig deep into the track record. Look hard at former accomplishments in and out of the workplace because the greatest predictor of future performance is past performance. Past performance is not a guarantee, but it’s the most telling indicator of what someone will do because winners tend to remain winners unless the job or environment changes dramatically. The reverse is also true: Losers tend to remain losers unless the job or environment changes drastically.

3. Don’t confuse interview performance with job performance. Keep emotions out of the interview and hiring process. A short telephone interview before the physical interview will help eliminate the visual impact of the first impression. When you get blown away by personalities, stereotypes and appearance, you stop assessing the candidate. You magnify the candidate’s strengths, minimize his or her weaknesses and start selling the job too soon.

4. Use prestructured interview questions. Ask prestructured, behavioral-based questions that delve into past accomplishments, then follow up the answers by digging for specifics. This will weed out fluff and exaggeration. Stick to your questions and resist the temptation to talk too much. The candidate is on trial, not you. An interview should be a fact-finding expedition, not a casual conversation. Raise the caution flag when you feel yourself enjoying the interview process because it means your emotions are getting involved and you’re losing objectivity.

5. Build your team around individual excellence, not harmony. While harmony and camaraderie are important to every team, they should not be the first things you look for in a candidate. Great teams are built around individual excellence. You must have the talented people in place first. With a good coach at the helm and the right people on board, you’ll start winning. Harmony and camaraderie will be an extension of that success.

6. Hire people wired for the work. You can teach skills and knowledge, but you can’t teach talent; you have to hire it in. If you could teach it, there would be hundreds of Michael Jordans, Eric Claptons and Robert De Niros. Training someone void of talent is simply a form of damage control. You’ll get these people to the point where they won’t hurt you too badly, but they’ll never excel because excellence is impossible without innate ability. Use predictive testing that gauges competencies – not preferences – to determine whether someone has a talent for the job. These tests are no guarantee, but extensive research shows they are three times more likely to identify a talented candidate than when you hire without using them. While aptitude is a great head start, keep in mind it’s only potential. Plenty of talented people never use their gifts. This is why you must dig into candidates’ track records to determine what they’ve done with their abilities throughout their lives.

7. Make it tough to get on board. The easier you make it for someone to join your organization, the easier it is for that employee to leave when he or she decides the grass is greener elsewhere. What people gain too easily they esteem too lightly. On the other hand, when you conduct a rigorous and serious interview, the candidate appreciates the job more and is more likely to work hard to validate your confidence.

8. Be proactive. There’s no shortage of talented people in any city or marketplace. The world didn’t suddenly stop churning out talented people. It’s just that the most talented people already have jobs. Develop a proactive strategy that markets to passive job candidates – those already gainfully employed elsewhere. Your Web site should be a recruitment post that allows people to apply online. It should display testimonials from happy workers and compelling job descriptions. Everyone in your organization should be rewarded for referring and recruiting people into your workplace. You must lose the mentality that you’re “all filled up.” You’ll never build a pipeline of talent if the only time you recruit, interview and hire is when you need someone. Being proactive keeps you out of situations where you panic-hire the wrong person just to fill a hole. Remember, as desperation rises, standards fall.

9. If in doubt, keep looking. It’s nearly incalculable to determine the cost inflicted on your organization when you bring the wrong person on board. It’s not only the cost in missed sales or production, but also the cost of broken momentum, lower morale, misuse of resources and your own diminished credibility. When in doubt, keep looking.

– by Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson is the author of the book No-Nonsense Leadership. He is a peak performance author, trainer, speaker and expert on leadership and sales. For more information, call (650) 941-1493 or visit

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications