You can’t be successful as a business unless you get the right people on your team. Many of the small business owners and executives we’ve met pride themselves on being able to pick winners by “gut feel.” But too often, they find themselves with nonperformers or even “bad fits” that can hinder even the most productive employees.
So what’s the answer? Stop hiring by instinct and start hiring based on evidence that the person you hire has already demonstrated the capabilities you need now and in the near future.
Before you even start looking at candidates, first make a list of the knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSAs) the person will need to be successful in the role. For example, an operations manager might need to know about interstate commerce regulations, have skills in automated logistics systems and creative problem solving, and demonstrate attitudes such as self-discipline and drive for results. Then, from your list of KSAs, pick about 6 of the most important ones and create a behavioral question for each designed to determine the extent to which each candidate has demonstrated that knowledge, skill or attitude.
Here are a few examples:
- Tell me about a specific time when your knowledge of interstate commerce regulations made a difference to your employer.
- Please describe one of the most difficult logistics problems you’ve faced. Tell me exactly what you did and why.
- I’d like to hear about a situation you’ve faced on the job that required some serious self-discipline on your part.
During the interviews, be sure to ask all questions of all applicants. Take good notes and identify the responses that really reflect the skills you need – as well as the ones that concern you.
You may need to remind the candidate that you want specifics rather than generalities – applicants often tend to focus on what they “always” do or what they believe is “right” rather than providing information on one specific incident. And don’t be afraid to probe for details.
Then after all the interviews are over – review your notes and hire the candidate who’s clearly demonstrated the KSAs that will help you and the team move forward – and not slow you down.
What are some of the things you do that have helped you bring on strong performers?