Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Friday, 01 March 2013 11:34

The First Step to Retention Is Good Hiring!

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Is your company’s bottom line where it should be? Are you growing, shrinking, or barely keeping your head above water? How are your numbers compared to five years ago? It is no big secret that times are tough for businesses—both small and large. Times are tight. Times are uncertain. Times have changed, and there is no room for error.

Even in the best of times, 50% of new businesses do not make it past the first eighteen months of operation. Businesses fail for a variety of reasons (poor idea, poor execution, bad marketing, wrong location, etc.) but the most Is Good Hiring! common reason reported is under capitalization. They don’t have enough money to stay in business and survive the hard times. While capital primarily refers to cash, human resource professionals know that there is another kind of capital that is even more important—human capital.

Human capital is the people that make up the company. If a company does not strive to hire, train, and retain the best and brightest, they will struggle to survive in today’s business environment. Hiring A-list candidates, and those with A-list potential, is not an option. It is a necessity. Hiring and promoting the wrong people can destroy an otherwise successful company. It is a story all too common. If a company does not make hiring the best candidates available a priority, they will suffer.

A Case Study 

The economic downturn hit a small company in South Georgia hard. As a company that provides support services with a focus on the mortgage and real estate industry, this company found itself in the direct path of the proverbial storm. Revenues fell at a frightening rate, and long term employees, as well as management, voluntarily left the company. The company’s senior management was forced to reduce staff and make cuts. Fortunately, cash reserves allows the company to weather the storm The market recovered, and as business began to pick up, the need for more staff became apparent. Attempts to rehire former employees met with limited success, new hires were made, yet, that old feeling—that motivation and camaraderie— was gone. Despite a recovering economy, the company began to slip.


The problem was not the business model or the economy. It was the people within the company. Poor decisions made on the part of the management led to poor hires. Corners were cut in an attempt to save money. It’s understandable. In uncertain times, investing a significant amount in a new employee is scary, but that is the wrong attitude.


Morale was low. Employee turnover was high. Production and sales were down. The environment within the company was becoming poisonous.


Fortunately, management did make one great hire. They hired an excellent human resource specialist named Sharon. Sharon knew the value of hiring A-list candidates. She convinced the upper level management to institute hiring policies to target the top 10%.


Within three months, Sharon had managed to replace the worst employees with the best candidates available. Yes, the company was spending more on payroll, but the increased revenue and overall boost in company morale was well worth the cost. She saved the business. Sharon would say, “I helped hire the people that turned everything around.”


Today, the company is once again thriving. Sales are up 30%, and there are plans in the works for expansion. Hiring the right people, even if they cost a little more, is worth it no matter the industry.


According to a recent survey conducted by Leadership IQ, a leading global leadership training and research company, 46% of all new hires will fail within eighteen months. Only 19% will achieve what can be called “unequivocal” success. Imagine replacing 50% of your staff every eighteen months. The training costs alone are enough to make an executive shudder.


This landmark study lasted three years, included over 5,000 hiring managers, and over 20,000 interviewees. This study yielded a broad array of data, but the most interesting data came from 812 managers that reported great success in hiring new employees. It was not a specific type of interview that made these managers successful; in fact, the study showed no significant advantage to using any of the commonly accepted interview approaches over another. No, the difference was in the emphasis placed on motivation and interpersonal skills—or emotional and social intelligence.


Hiring managers who have the training and skills to discern a candidate’s true nature have a better chance of identifying candidates that possess the five attributes that make a great employee and manager, or if they are not present, can prevent a bad hire.


The Five Attributes That Make a Great Hire Are:

 Coachability:  The ability to accept direction and implement it quickly. Someone who is coachable has no problem accepting feedback from others. Being able to accept feedback is one of the hallmarks of those who can potentially become great managers.


Emotional Intelligence: The ability to cope with one’s own emotions and understand the emotions that drive others.


Motivation: Motivation drives people to be their best and attain personal and company goals. Motivated people also motivate those around them and promote the synergy that drives the modern company to new heights.


Temperament: Temperament is attitude and personality, but the ideal temperament varies based on industry and position.


Technical Competence: Simply, this is the skill, knowledge, experience, education, and aptitude required to adequately perform a job.


Filling a company with individuals that possess these five attributes has a net positive effect on an entire company. Companies that make a commitment to hire only the best and brightest routinely report that company morale, revenue, employee retention, productivity, and teamwork are all positively affected.


How Do You Fill a Company With A-List Employees and Managers?

 Mastering the art, yes, it is an art, of interviewing does not happen overnight, but there are a few techniques you can incorporate into your interview process for an immediate impact.


Identify the Right Attitude for Your Company

 An A-list performer at one company can be a B or even C-list employee at yours. Before you begin the interview process define what traits and what attitudes your ideal candidate needs to succeed in your company. Honors commitments? A self-starter? Great with people? Risk taker? Cautious and detail oriented? Ability to think outside the box? Works within established frameworks? The answer to this question will establish how you conduct the in person interviews.


Conduct Technical Assessments Before the Interview

 Rehashing technical skills during the interview process is a waste of time. It is easy to verify technical skills well before the actual interview. All it takes is a few phone calls to previous employers and references. Why waste valuable time going over something that is already established on a resume?


Remove Cliché Questions From Your Vocabulary

 Overused questions are just that: overused. Every guide to interviewing for a job has these questions and what are considered safe and appropriate responses. It is impossible to get an honest answer to a question like, “What are your strengths? Or what are your weaknesses?” If the interviewee knows the question beforehand, what is the point in asking it? Save your time for questions that might actually elicit an honest and useful response.


Implement Behavioral Interviewing Techniques

This is a powerful technique. Behavioral interviewing is when you pose a question that prompts the interviewee to relate how they responded to a specific past problem or situation. How the interviewees respond to real world problems says more about them than how they respond to standard questions.


Use the Hanging Question

 A hanging question is not a leading question. Leading questions give the interviewee hints. Don’t ask leading questions. Instead turn your leading questions into hanging questions. Instead of asking, “You are going to miss your deadline. How will you explain this to your manager,” ask, “You are going to miss your deadline. What do you do?” See the difference? There is no clue in a hanging question. The interviewee is free to fill in the blanks.


Let the Interviewee Do the Talking

 The interviewee should do 80% of the talking. Yes, you should lead the interview, but beyond making the interviewee comfortable and asking questions you should be silent. People naturally do not like silence, and they try to fill it. What your interviewee says and does to fill that silence can provide valuable clues about his attitude and character.


The employees and managers that make up a company are its most important asset. It is your job to find human capital. Filling a company’s roster with top-level talent is a sure path to success and growth. No technique is perfect, and there is always the chance of making a bad hire; however, following the techniques outlined here, as well as other interview techniques that focus on attitude and emotional intelligence will increase your chance of hiring the right candidate.






Jonathan “JJ” Jarrell, PHR is the Regional Human Resource Manager at Performance Food Group and the 2013 HR FL Workforce Readiness Director. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.