How to Hire (and Keep) the Right People.

Finding just the right person to fill a position in your company is often a long, frustrating process. Maybe you have hired a candidate only to discover months later that he or she is not a good fit.  Here are tips for streamlining the process and hiring the right person the first time:

Revise the job description to reflect where your company is now.  Your company is a dynamic entity.  Its priorities, production, customer needs and business goals have probably fluctuated since that job description was originally written.  Take it apart and rebuild it, inserting specific responsibilities and expectations that fit your company’s current objectives.  This way, you increase your chances of finding exactly the type of person you are looking for.

Utilize the best search tools to find qualified employees.  Most job boards cast a very wide net.  You get an odd mixture of candidates who may have a great resume but may lack the right kind of experience.

To locate qualified candidates more efficiently, consider having an employment service (on- or offline) do the initial screening for you.   Decide which is worth more—the cost of the service or your time.

Don’t discount referrals.  Your colleagues and friends may be able to refer candidates to you.  They might have a temp worker who has done a superb job, but no permanent position is available.  Or they may know of excellent employees who were forced to take early retirement.

Temp agencies also may have great candidates on file.  In today’s economy, hundreds of thousands of seasoned employees have been “let go” during drastic downsizing.  Although they are doing part time or temp work, they really want full time work in the areas of their expertise.

Ask the right questions in the interview.  Be sure to ask probing questions that enable you to read between the lines of the resume and evoke telling answers that reveal the candidate’s true perspective and commitment.

Personal strengths may “trump” specific knowledge.  Specifics can always be learned later. If the candidate has integrity, reasons things through, and can envision and push toward a goal, that person could be a better fit than someone who can only boast the right training.

By the interview stage, you have already sorted candidates by external qualifications.  During the interview, zero in on the inner qualities of the candidate.  Let your instincts guide your judgment as to whether he or she is right for your company.


Be prepared to invest in smart, motivated people.  When you come across a candidate who is intelligent without being conceited, communicates well and is self-motivated, put him or her on your short list for your team.   Candidates with these qualities can anticipate “unexpected” situations. They are proactive and do not need you to micromanage them. To get these smart, motivated employees into your company, you may have to offer a higher salary or bonuses.

Once they are part of your team, it is up to you to invest further in them by equipping them to excel.   Give them job-specific guidelines right from the start.  Provide them with opportunities to grow by mastering new skills related to their position. Give them the freedom to make decisions within their expertise. Encourage them to find creative solutions to make their departments more efficient.  Finally, show your appreciation for their efforts and successes with praise and tangible rewards.

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