How to Hire Right-fit Employees

Debbie Zmorenski

According to Entrepreneur.com, "One of the biggest challenges for companies is hiring the right candidates for their jobs and their culture. The reason is that most managers have not been trained in the art and science of hiring human beings." They cite the most common reasons for hiring wrong-fit employees as:

  • Hiring decisions are based on personal preference.
  • Managers may hire people because they like the way they look, smile, dress, act or speak.
  • A very common trend is for managers to hire someone that they perceive to be like them or like someone they know and like.
  • The candidate may be good at one or two aspects of the job, and the hiring manager eagerly assumes or hopes that the candidate will be good at the other aspects or can learn the other aspects.
  • The interviewer takes the candidate’s word that he or she has the experience and skills to do the job, or the resume is used as a tool to determine the candidate’s worthiness and skills.
  • There is a tendency to hire a moderately qualified person because the manager needs someone now.

Following are some key methods for avoiding biases and making successful hiring decisions:

Identify Key Factors

Also referred to as knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), these are the key factors that the ideal candidate must possess to successfully perform the job. Once you have identified the KSAs, ensure that they are incorporated into the job description.

With regards to job descriptions, you first must have them. When consulting for companies who have asked us to help them with their hiring process, we often find that they do not have job descriptions or have generic descriptions used for several lines of businesses.

In addition, it is critical that a job description not only clearly state the KSAs necessary to qualify for a position but also the expected behaviors. Remember, it is not just about the candidate’s ability to perform the task; it is also about his or her ability to fit into the culture of the organization.

Ask Key Questions

Ask specific and measurable questions that will be asked of all candidates and that will clearly and behaviorally demonstrate that they have the KSAs to perform the job. While the candidate is responding to this type of question, the interviewer can observe how well the candidate analyzes situations, how rationally or logically the situation is presented, and how well he or she will fit into the organization.

To design and utilize an interviewing process that is specific and measurable, try the following tips:

  • Ask relevant general questions that will assist you in determining if the candidate is a right fit for your culture.
  • Identify the behavior(s) and/or skills that are necessary for the potential employee to demonstrate.
  • Ask behavioral-based and situational-based questions.
  • Identify the ideal answer for each question.
  • Use a rating system that enables the manager to make an objective decision regarding right-fit candidates, measuring the candidate’s answer against the ideal answer.

Possible general questions might include:

  • What is your understanding of the responsibilities of this position?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What does “teamwork” mean to you?
  • What skills and experience do you bring to the job that other candidates might not offer?

Examples of possible behavior-based questions or open-ended questions designed to assess behavioral traits and tendencies of the candidate would be:

  • Give me an example of when you lost your patience with a customer, vendor or co-worker. What happened?
  • Tell me about a time when you followed organizational policy and procedures, even when you thought your own idea was better.
  • Tell me about a time when you made a serious error on the job. What were the circumstances and what did you do?
  • What have you done to support your co-workers on your last job?

Possible situation-based questions or scenario questions stating a specific situation designed to assess the candidate’s likely response in a similar situation could include:

  • Your scheduled shift is over in 10 minutes when the manager approaches you to stay two extra hours to help the plant recover lost production. What do you say to the manager?
  • A vendor approaches you looking for the manager. Assisting the vendor may mean falling behind in production. What do you do?
  • A customer calls to complain about a shortage on his order. According to your records, the order was delivered on time and in full. What do you do?

You may find it helpful to create an interviewing grid that contains the information you need to interview each candidate using the specific and measurable process described above.

Two sample grids are provided below. For each question, identify your ideal response and rate each candidate based on how close they come to the ideal response, with 1 being the lowest score and 5 being the highest score. This process allows for consistency in interviewing each candidate and also helps to reduce manipulation by savvy candidates. Be sure to allow enough time between interviews to write additional notes about the candidate and to assign a rating.

Behavior-based Grid

In this example, you have identified the behavior of integrity. The behavior-based question is intended to allow the potential candidate to express integrity without asking outright, "How do you demonstrate integrity?"

Situation-based Grid

In this question, you are assessing the candidate’s ability to act as a team player.

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About the Author

Deborah K. Zmorenski, MBA, is the co-owner and senior partner of Leader’s Strategic Advantage Inc., an Orlando, Fla.-based consulting firm. During her 34-year career with the Walt Disney W...