Who should you hire?

The Economist says that the single biggest problem in business today is unsuccessful hiring. Hiring mistakes can cost a large company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate is only 50 percent.

I read someplace else that it’s estimated the average hiring mistake costs employers 15 times the salary of the incorrect hire. When you include salary, lost productivity and opportunity costs, this is a reasonable estimate.

Despite the challenges and importance of hiring the best person who will have the best fit for your organization, most business owners dread the task of preparing a help wanted ad, receiving resumes and then interviewing possible candidates. As we provide payroll processing for many businesses, we can tell which companies are doing a good job of hiring, based on turnover rate.

A simple way to speed up the process of selecting applicants for an interview is to conduct a pre-interview over the phone. In fact you should never have a face to face interview if you haven’t already screened the person over the phone.

There are five simple questions you should ask that will help you determine how good a fit the prospective employee will be. They are designed to be open-ended questions, and they have nothing to do with the specific tasks of the job.

  1. What are your career goals?
  2. Please describe one of your biggest accomplishments or something you’re particularly proud of in your career.
  3. Please describe one of your bigger career disappointments/mistakes and how you handled it.
  4. Why should your company name here hire you as a job title here?
  5. Please tell me in your own words what you think this position is really about?

Ask the questions, and then shut up. Don’t lead them, and don’t offer to rephrase the question. The best candidates will also be the ones who are the most serious, the most prepared, and the most open about their past successes and failures. Each phone interview should take less than 15 minutes.

After finishing the questions and hanging up the phone, rank the candidate on a scale of 1-10. The only people you should meet for a face to face interview are the ones that ranked a 9-9.5.

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