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Hiring employees: Top 10 strategies to hire the best employees, who give you results

Hiring employees is not easy.
In fact, it is difficult. If you ask me again, it is very difficult!

Hiring employees, in fact, hiring the right employees is the most important thing that a manager or business owner can do for the company.
When done right, success will follow. Steve Jobs seems to agree with this:

The secret to my success is that we’ve gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.
— Steve Jobs, Founder- Apple

Hiring employees- top 10 strategies

In this article, let us look at the top 10 strategies for hiring the best employees who will give you great results-

Top 10 strategies for hiring the best employees


1. Look inside first


If we go back 50 to 70 years in time, companies used to fill around 80 to 90% of their vacancies through internal promotions. Fast forward to the time now, this number stands at only 25 to 30%.

For a simple reason.
The easy way to hire- if you need someone with a skill ‘X’, hire an employee from another company ‘Y’ who has this skill, offer more money than the old company, and let him/her start delivering results from day one.
Job done- the hiring manager is happy, the HR is happy and the employee who got more money is happy.

However, there is a very big problem in this approach:

More often than not, there is an existing employee in the company who can do the same job, maybe even better than the external hire, if given a chance.
Unfortunately, no one has the patience to spend time to train an existing employee.
And even if that internal employee already has the skill, managers do not have the confidence!

According to Wharton management professor Matthew Bidwell, the ‘external hires’ get significantly lower performance evaluations for their first two years on the job than the internal workers who are promoted into similar jobs. They also have higher turnover rates because they leave the company sooner. Plus they are paid “substantially more.” About 18% to 20% more.
This leads to a big chunk of internal employees getting demoralized, as they feel that they have not got their due promotion, while someone coming from outside has got it. It may also lead to conflicts among team members.

Another research by Matthew Bidwell found that outside hires take three years to perform as well as internal hires in the same job, while internal hires take seven years to earn as much as outside hires are paid! Now that is something to worry about if you really want to keep your employees motivated.

A big joke that did the rounds in one of my own previous companies was- ‘If you have to get a higher salary here, quit and then come back after 2 years’. And to be honest, this really worked for some!

How to solve this problem?

Make it compulsory to post all the new job vacancies internally first.
Do not allow the immediate managers to know who from their team applied to these openings, so they can’t block them.
Depending on the type of employee who is not happy with his/her current role, s/he will eventually leave. Having the option of lateral movement within any organization will help to avoid this.

A very good example of this is Google. Sundar Pichai joined Google in 2004 as the head of product management. He got several internal promotions over the years and in 2015, he became the CEO of Google. Further, in December 2019 he became the CEO of Alphabet Inc., the holding company for Google.

If the biggest companies can ‘look inside first’ why can’t you?

2. Spend more time on creating a proper job description


Sometimes companies are in such a hurry that they don’t even craft a job description.
Some do it, but they don’t do it well enough. Or the created JDs are not realistic.

A job description is the most important part of the hiring process. If you are not clear on what is important for this job, how can you hire the best person for it?

Focus on the below-

a. Do Job analysis before drafting the job description- have a quick meeting between the HR manager and the hiring manager, to correctly understand the skills, education, and experience required for the role.
b. Be Realistic – sometimes a job may not need 10 years of experience.
c. Have a proper job title– a clear job title will invite more relevant and better-suited applicants
d. Length– Ideal JD length should be between 300 to 700 words unless otherwise required

3. Focus on active candidates, not passive


Peter Cappelli from Harvard talks about this topic in detail-

In 2015, a LinkedIn survey was conducted of more than 20,000 talent professionals. 86% of them said their recruiting organizations focused “very much so” or “to some extent” on passive candidates.

The obsession of recruiters with passive candidates is not new.
They believe that something may be wrong with an active candidate who is looking to leave his/her job.
They have the notion that passive candidates who are happy in their current job are always the best choice. And they happily offer more money to such candidates to entice them to switch.

However, let’s not overlook that the number one factor which encourages the passive candidate to move is either more money or a better position. When offered even better, they may leave you tomorrow.

For active candidates, the top factors are better work and career opportunities.

More active than passive job seekers report that they are passionate about their work, engaged in improving their skills, and reasonably satisfied with their current jobs. They seem interested in moving because they are ambitious, not because they want higher pay.

Until and unless there is a very rare skill that is available only with a certain passive candidate, the organizations should always first evaluate the pool of available active candidates.

4. Standardize the interview


We often hear that 2 candidates appeared for an interview with the same panel on the same day.
One candidate was asked 3 questions and let go in 10 minutes, while the second spent 90 minutes and answered 50 questions!

This happens when recruiters do not have a standard interview blueprint.
They ask questions based on their mood at that point in time, and hence their personal biases may come into play.

This happens unconsciously to even the most experienced recruiters, and it is neither good for the hiring process nor for the company culture that eventually takes shape.

The solution is simple- to standardize the interview blueprint:

— Recruiters to test every candidate on the same set of pre-defined factors (using different questions and ways of course)
— Test all the skills required for the job, not 2 skills for one candidate and 10 for the next candidate
— Give more or less equal time to each candidate
— Put an objective scoring system in place

The objective is not to restrict the creativity of an interviewer in any way.
It is to avoid personal biases and preconceived notions coming into play.
In the long run, a standardized interview blueprint leads to a better quality of candidates, which in turn produces better performance.

The best companies follow the same when hiring their employees.

5. Multiple rounds of interviews- Get second and third opinions


Here is the biggest recipe for disaster-

There is a position to fill urgently and the hiring manager asks the HR to arrange resumes of candidates.
The HR shortlists 10 candidates and arranges their interviews with the manager.
The hiring manager interviews all the 10 candidates, each of them for about 30-40 minutes. He likes two of them but eventually makes up his mind for one which he/she feels is the best.

Based on the hiring manager’s feedback, the HR rolls out the offer letter and the candidate joins the company.
Everyone thinks that the job is done.

But the question to ask here is: ‘Is it done well enough?’

Even if you think you are the best judge of character, always take the time to get more opinions because we all have blind spots” — Adam Bryant- The New York times

There is one thing common with all the top companies in the world- their interview process is lengthy with 7 to 8 rounds. Multiple stakeholders take these interviews.
Then they obtain a collective score for each candidate. The process lasts for several days.

Think about it, is the need for an employee not urgent to these companies? Why do they spend so much time- of everyone- in this process.

The answer is simple- in a single interview, a recruiter cannot spot everything, no matter how experienced or senior he/she is. You should always run the person through different people and take a collective opinion.
Moreover, there needs to be an objective scoring system, to avoid any personal bias.

To hire well, always have several rounds of interviews, especially with different stakeholders at the office, with whom the candidate is going to work in the future. It will ensure a consistent pool of great employees who can also fit well into the company’s culture.

As Steve Jobs famously said-

“You need to have a collaborative hiring process”
— Steve Jobs, Founder- Apple

6. Reference checks- for hiring the best employees


“Well done is better than well said, and there’s no substitute for good referencing
— Amy Gutmann, President – University of Pennsylvania

Reference checks are an absolute must. Do not ignore them or take them lightly.
They can confirm your perceptions of a potential candidate or prove you entirely wrong!

Don’t just go with the standard references an employee provides in the resume, always try to go beyond.
A little bit of an effort on Linkedin, and it will not be difficult to find an old colleague or a friend or a friend of a friend who knows the candidate you want to hire.

Request them to give an unbiased and honest reference of the candidate with values that are important to your company- like how he/she works in a team, the ability to perform with a strict deadline, ethics, integrity, etc.

7. Test them with a task or project


When buying a car, do you go for a test drive?
Of course, you do.
It is an expensive purchase, a long term investment, will stay with you every day, and you will spend on its maintenance and service.

Likewise, hiring is expensive, is a long term investment, the employee will work with you every day, and you will spend on their training and development.

“I often give the person a real problem, whatever I’m wrestling with right now, because you can learn a lot about a person that way”
— Jane Park, Chief executive of Julep

To get a real flavor of the potential of the candidate, it is a good practice to give them an actual task or a small project and see them in action.
It will reduce the uncertainty and help you in hiring the right person.

8. Do not hire someone like ‘you’


“I’m always looking for the opposite of what I am, for the most part”

— Lisa Borders, president of the WNBA

It is very natural for all of us to like our own way of doing things, our own way of treating people, and our own way of looking at situations.
More often than not, you will meet someone in an interview who is very much like you in a lot of things. And it is quite normal that you will have a strong liking or a bias for him/her.

It can be good to have such people as your personal friends, but they may not necessarily be the best fit for the company:

— Having a mix of employees will ensure different perspectives to problems
— Variety will encourage new ways of thinking
— It will avoid creating a homogeneous workforce
— It will also avoid conflicts between coworkers at the office

Another important tip: Always hire someone who is better than you and knows more about the role than you do.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”

— Steve Jobs, Founder- Apple

9. Never settle unless you find the right candidate


It can be really frustrating if you are not able to find the right candidate for a role. Time is never enough when it comes to hiring.
Deadlines can be daunting and pressure will keep mounting.

However, take a moment to look at what Jeff Bezos says on this matter:

I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person

–Jeff Bezos, Founder- Amazon


Jörgen Sundberg of the Undercover Recruiter reports bad hires can cost up to $240,000 in expenses. They are broken down into costs related to hiring, pay, and retention.

The cost of a bad hire can reach up to 30 percent of the employee’s first-year earnings, as per the U.S. Department of Labor.

The point is simple- you will always have the pressure to hire fast and will always be on a deadline. However, to avoid the repercussions of a bad hire and the immense financial losses it will bring along, never settle till you find the right candidate.

“Time spent on hiring is time well spent
— Robert Half

10. Measure the results of your hiring


This is the most important part of any hiring process, which a lot of organizations ignore, even the big ones.
When you have put so much time and energy into the hiring process, why not measure your results?

What can be measured-

— Number of years an employee works with the company vs. the institute from which he/she was hired
— The best employees of the company vs. the source they were hired from
— Performance of employees internally promoted vs. external hires

There is so much more to measure to gain insights and improve the existing hiring strategy of any company.

How to measure-

One of the ways to measure the hiring process is to track the annual performance of the employees.
Using a comprehensive performance evaluation model will help to correctly measure the hiring process.

Tata is one of the few companies which measures and keeps track of their hiring process very meticulously. No wonder, they have been so successful in business, all the way from 1868 till today.

Conclusion


Hiring employees is indeed a very difficult process.
And it will almost certainly be the differentiating factor between the success and failure of any company.

Unfortunately, several companies consider hiring a burden, and managers rush through it.

Hiring the wrong employee is expensive, actually very expensive.
Apart from the financial losses and the cost of missed commercial opportunities, it will also waste the time and energy of the existing employees to get the new hire at speed with the company.

Let us revisit-

Top 10 strategies for hiring the best employees who give you results

  1. Look inside first

    More often than not, there is an existing employee in the company who can do the same job, maybe even better than the external hire, if given a chance.

  2. Spend more time on creating a proper job description

    A job description is the most important part of the hiring process. If you are not clear on what is important for this job, how can you hire the best person for it?

  3. Focus on active candidates, not passive

    More active than passive job seekers report that they are passionate about their work, engaged in improving their skills, and reasonably satisfied with their current jobs. They seem interested in moving because they are ambitious, not because they want higher pay.

  4. Standardize the interview

    In the long run, a standardized interview blueprint leads to a better quality of candidates.

  5. Multiple rounds of interviews- Get second and third opinions

    Even if you think you are the best judge of character, always take the time to get more opinions because we all have blind spots” — Adam Bryant- The New York times

  6. Reference checks

    Reference checks can confirm your perceptions of a candidate or prove you entirely wrong!

  7. Test them with a task or project

    To get a real flavor of the potential of the candidate, it is a good practice to give them an actual task or a small project and see them in action.

  8. Do not hire someone like ‘you’

    Having diversity will ensure different perspectives to problems, will encourage new ways of thinking
    and avoid creating a homogeneous workforce

  9. Never settle unless you find the right candidate

    You will always have the pressure to hire fast and will always be on a deadline. However, to avoid the repercussions of a bad hire and the immense financial losses it will bring along, never settle till you find the right candidate.

  10. Measure the results of your hiring process

    The most important part of the hiring process is to measure its results. Track the annual performance of the hired employees against the source of hiring.

We hope you liked the article. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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