We have collated the following nine best practices to help you improve your process of selecting new team members, and ultimately hire the right employee. Consider reading this before you next advertise any open positions within your business.
Ensure that each role on your team supports your organisation’s key objectives
Anytime you have an open position, it is a great time to revisit and refine your job description and position expectations. Look at both the characteristics the role requires and the processes that the role manages. Consider how well they’re well aligned with your company’s goals and objectives.
Are there opportunities to improve processes that would affect how this role is done? Could a role could be eliminated, replaced with a more valuable function (i.e. an inside or external resource to schedule meetings to make your entire team more productive), or consolidated with another role in your team or company?
Conduct employee exit interviews and encourage very direct feedback on what can be improved. Challenge your own established assumptions and consider new opportunities for greater effectiveness.
Clearly understanding the specific sets of skills, knowledge, and behavioural traits that help your top performers be successful enables you to seek out those characteristics in other candidates. Look at your top performers who have been in the role for at least a year and a half (so that their success wasn’t just produced by their predecessor, or a lucky break). Get these characteristics down on paper.
To hire the right employee, you should use a combination of assessments to help objectively determine those skills, knowledge, and behavioural traits. Then apply the same assessments to candidates (internal and external) to see how they match.
Consider internal and external candidates for open positions
For external candidates, continually cast a wide net. Don’t just look for candidates when you have an open position. Use networking and industry events to meet people (yes, including competitors). Try adopting some social media recruiting resources, along with traditional job boards. Engage with recruiters (you can always say “no” if their candidate is not the one you choose). We’ll discuss this in more detail in future posts. For now, just be advised to use multiple sources for continuous candidate flow.
Even if an internal candidate doesn’t appear to be the best fit at first glance, and even if they don’t get the job, give internal candidates the opportunity to participate in the interview process. You’ll both gain valuable mutual visibility and you may be surprised by an internal candidate’s otherwise hidden capabilities. Employees want to know that there is opportunity for them to grow within your company, beyond their current role.
As with all recruiting, you may discover the right person right in your company for a future role on your team that just isn’t currently open. You may also find a development channel for future people (i.e. Customer Service, or Inside Sales) where you may be able to collaborate and contribute to your peer manager.
Also, keep in mind that external candidates may have lots of practice interviewing, whereas your internal candidate may not have done so for a long time. So take that into consideration in your evaluation.
In cases where you want to interview candidates from other departments, be sure to observe your company’s protocol regarding communications with the current manager. Contact your HR department for any defined process for this.
Provide interviewing skills training
Effective interviewing techniques must be learned to get excellent results when you hire the right employee. Salespeople in particular are a challenge to objectively interview because they are so adept at adapting to what they think you are looking for. They can also quickly take over an interview without even trying. So provide interviewing training in questioning techniques to anyone who will be interviewing candidates in order to get the best results.
How well your organisation interviews is a reflection of professionalism to your candidates. Also train in the legalities of what can and can’t be asked or discussed. Don’t incur substantial risk of discrimination claims because you missed this step. An innocent and inquisitive personal question can lead to substantial legal costs.
Think ahead about who would be involved in your next candidate interviews, and provide the interview training in advance. Developing good interview skills requires practice. So interviewing candidates (early stage screening and throughout the process) is a great opportunity to have potential future sales managers within the organisation (on your team or a colleague’s team) build their skills and participate in building the company’s sales team.
Apply a highly consistent selection process to all candidates
Design your selection process to introduce as much objectivity and consistency as possible in order to hire the right employee. Doing so will provide greater clarity and better decisions. That means standardising your screening, interviewing, testing, and background and reference checking.
For example, prepare interview questions that will be asked of each candidate. Use the same interview venue, sequence of events, the same participants, even the same time of day if possible (interviewers’ energy level affects perceptions).
Far too often, hiring decisions are made in moments, based upon first impressions, or even similarity of characteristics to the interviewer. We often like people that are like us. However that doesn’t mean they’re the right person for every job. Remove potential biases (even subconscious ones) in advance.
Conduct comprehensive reference and background checks
A company that I once worked for hired a new CEO from outside. The individual came from a very large and well known organisation. Unfortunately, as a candidate, the new CEO grossly overstated their experience and qualifications. Unfortunately this was discovered after the candidate was hired.
Six months later the new CEO was terminated. The cost was staggering. References should be checked for all candidates, in all positions, before hiring candidates.
In addition, conduct background checks that are relevant to your business. So be aware of changing regulations and act within the law to ensure that you are engaging the best employees for your needs.
Include key stakeholders in your employee selection process
Have your final candidates interview with other people who will be working with a hired candidate, or will eventually be impacted by their work. These interviews can be accomplished with various types of interviews; one-on-one, panels, video interview, or other approaches.
People to include would be other department leaders, your peer managers, your team members, your boss, and other stakeholders such as executives. The more eyes and ears (within reason) the better.
The scheduling (even if it is delegated) needs to be clearly communicated to all participants. The candidate should be guided through the process by the hiring manager or an assistant. Discuss with other interviewers well in advance what the process will be so that they are well informed. Provide interview guidelines for the interview topics and what you want the interviewer to explore. Don’t bias the interviewers with your own observations or impressions.
Rather, ask questions of them after their interviews so that you can compare their insights with your own. Take the time to really listen to the feedback (hopefully also get it in writing via a post interview questionnaire). Don’t waste anyone’s time if you, as the hiring manager, are not open to hearing what you may not want to hear. Remember this is about objectivity.
Use assessments to probe deeper into a candidate’s suitability
There are a wide range of assessments available to help get deeper into candidate suitability. Interviewing could be considered an assessment of sorts. However interviewing has very human limitations and inconsistencies. So consider what other objective assessments that will help your organisation to screen and select the best candidates for each position.
According to a detailed HR survey, 46% of new hires will fail within six months. We find that poor skills fit is the most common reason new hires don’t work out. Using skill testing is an excellent and inexpensive way to verify candidate claims or to plan for the right training resources.
Ensuring the right fit also means getting candidates with the traits that fit the specific role. Candidates can “turn it on” during an interview and give the right answers. However when they have to sustain expected behaviours that are unnatural to them on the job, the result is stress, poor performance, and eventually attrition and replacement costs.
So use accurate psychometric testing to deliver objective reporting on who a candidate actually is (as opposed to who you’re seeing in an interview).
Ensure that compensation is competitive
Research consistently shows that you don’t have to have the highest monetary compensation to engage the right candidate. However you do need to be within a competitive range. Use external compensation research to ensure that you’re in the right range to recruit to the right candidates.
Rewards of employment go well beyond just money, which is why money is shown to be surprisingly low on the list of why people join or leave companies. More important are factors such as mutual respect and trust, work-life balance, integrity of management, the company’s mission, career opportunity (see above), challenging work, flexibility, etc. Recognition programs may also be important.
These are all a big part of the “compensation package”. So be sure to emphasise what’s important to you and your company in regard to these factors.
Ensure your selection process links to your on-boarding process
On-boarding processes in many sales organisations are lacking and really slow the pace of sales performance for new salespeople. Frankly, I believe it leads to substantial talent loss because otherwise productive performers can get frustrated, lose confidence, and don’t produce or gain the rewards they expected to in their role.
So take a look at your processes for getting your new people (and managers) up to speed for success. Are they effective? How could they be improved? Take steps to make it right.
Don’t forget that internal team members who transfer to new roles need parts of the on-boarding process too. Don’t assume what they know. Take the time to ensure that they have the resources they need to rapidly contribute. Consider using assessments to determine training needs for their new role.
Last, being able to clearly communicate to your preferred candidate exactly how you will help them rapidly get up to speed and successfully contributing is an important part of your sales (and engagement) process for hiring the best people for your organisation.
Nine tips to hire the right employee
Selecting the best candidates for a position means choosing how well your goals and plans are executed and achieved. By incorporating these best practices into your existing process, you will enjoy more success that comes with having the best people in the right positions! Best of luck when you next hire the right employee.