Making the Right Hire
Beyond the Resume and Interview... Selecting the Best Candidate the First Time

When asked, many employers name recruiting as the most challenging components to running a successful business. As the saying goes, you’re only as good as the team you build. So, the pressure is on when it comes to hiring. Recruiters and hiring managers are juggling many balls trying to find the right person to bring on board.

What can employers do to ensure their recruiting efforts will yield the best results?

Involve All The Key Players

It’s time to hire. Your first step is to connect with the hiring manager and ask her to get to work, right? Wrong. Your hiring manager may be a pro, but she cannot find or hire the best person for the job when she has only the most basic information such as job title, a few requirements, and compensation.

Long before your hiring manager touches the search, the key players must get together to discuss what the ideal candidate will look like. Who are the key players? It’s simple. Anyone and everyone who will engage with the new hire. Yes, anyone and everyone. One of the most common missteps we see in hiring is recruiting a candidate who has only interacted with upper management, not the people he or she will encounter daily.

To avoid this problem include key players throughout the hiring process. For example, management and a few team members should be part of writing the job description. While managers know what they are looking for in terms of experience and qualifications, employees in the trenches can share valuable insight on skills the team might be lacking and places where someone knew can jump in. Often, these are areas management might not even be aware of.

Other milestone stops along the hiring process include interviews, extending an offer, and onboarding. These are all key areas where employees at all levels can step in and be a part of the hiring strategy to ensure the best person is hired for the job.

Decide Who’s Running the Show

There is nothing more frustrating for all parties involved than a lack of clear leadership in a search.

For the hiring manager, the inability to make decisions causes a number of problems. It undermines her authority. She is the person on the front lines: monitoring the search, reviewing resumes, identifying viable candidates, and scheduling and conducting initial interviews. If she has no decision-making authority, she will be relegated to the role of “Messenger”. This scenario is ripe with potential problems. For every person she has to get approval from there is the potential for change – changed priorities, changed criteria. This muddies the recruiting waters. Suddenly she’s screening for skills or experience that were not on the initial list. We’ve seen hiring managers and recruiters return again and again to the “well of resumes” as different members of the leadership team suddenly want something new in the candidates they are interviewing – something other than what was agreed to at the outset of the search. In the end, you’re left with a very frustrated recruiter and candidate.

Speaking of candidates, a lack of clear leadership makes their role in the search frustrating as well. Every back-and-forth email between the recruiter and higher-ups, adds time to the process. You’re going to lose many strong candidates as they shift their focus to other, more efficient and responsive organizations.

Avoid this problem by predetermining which decision-makers are involved in the process and who will manage each part of the search: from marketing to reviewing resumes; to scheduling and participating in interviews; to who is conducting reference & background checks and ultimately presenting the final offer. This will make your recruiting strategy a well-oiled machine and prevent the loss of excellent candidates.

Recruiters tip: It is a candidate’s market. Act fast! Your dream hire will not wait around while every decision passes through a long chain of command.

Write a High Quality Job Description

Some employers are under the misconception that writing the Job Description is the “easy part” of hiring. Of course, that might be why so many of them are having trouble finding (and keeping) great talent – they get lazy when it comes to writing their job specs.

A good job description begins with a conversation, not a keyboard.

You may be surprised to hear that everyone within your company has a different expectation and need when they are making a hire. Competing agendas lead to job descriptions with outlandish and unattainable expectations. Ultimately, they end up describing three employees in one… dooming the entire hiring process to fail before it even began.

Long before a job is posted, a hiring committee of key stakeholders should come to a consensus about the core capabilities and expectations. Collectively, they must clearly outline the hard and soft skills of the “perfect hire”, goals he or she is expected to meet, and how performance will be measured. This success profile is essential. Employers cannot develop a job description in a bubble. Stay abreast of the state of the national hiring market, your local unemployment rate, and high demand skills. Consider the latest hiring trends in your field, industry, and role to attract the right kind of candidates. These trends also impact promotion tracks, compensation packages, and other perks – all important pieces of your job spec.

Learn how to create a compensation package fit for an A Player…without breaking the bank.

Does your compensation package align with the current market? Download our FREE Compensation Guide and find out!
Now that the foundation is in place, it’s time to draft the job posting. Your job descriptions should replace decades-old headers such as “Requirements” and “Responsibilities” with more engaging language such as “You will be successful in this role if you possess…” and “In this high visibility position, you will impact the business by…” Specifically, be sure to include:

  • A clear picture of your corporate culture
  • The specific activities the new hire will be charged with and how they will impact the business
  • Metrics of success and evaluation
  • Demonstrated skills, relevant experience, and education that will ensure success
  • Ideal personality/soft skill attributes that match your company culture

When advising candidates on how to draft a resume, we tell them to remember the 3 Bes. Be succinct. Be specific. Be truthful. The same goes for employers. Use job, field, or industry-specific keywords to concisely outline the qualifications and experience you are looking for. Give an accurate account of expectations and outcomes.

Recruiter’s tip: Do not advertise and hire for one job, then expect your new employee to do something else (it sounds preposterous, but we see it happen all the time).

Make sure you understand your company culture before you try to sell it

There’s no shortage of conversations about company culture. But do you truly understand what the term means? It’s more than whether or not you like to come to work or how “fun” your manager might be. In fact, a company’s culture is not about you at all. It’s about the company itself- who it is, what it represents, what it values, and how it embodies those things.

Having a clear understanding of your company’s culture, not only allows you to attract and hire dynamic new employees, it improves loyalty and commitment from your existing employees, as well. Whether you are a new company or an established one, now is the perfect time to review your existing culture or sit down to define it. Answers to questions like these will help you get started:

  • What is our purpose?
  • What are our core values?
  • What policies and process do we need to implement (or avoid) to meet our goals and protect our values?

Check out this great article by the Forbes Coaches Council for more ideas on how to define and build your organization’s culture.

Get Creative

The times, they are a-changin’. Hiring followed a pretty typical process in the past: resume review, in-person interview(s), extend the offer. Regardless of whether it’s a candidate- or employer-driven market, these simple steps will no longer cut the mustard. One of the biggest evolutions in hiring strategy is how companies conduct interviews. And the results are in, organizations are making better hires using better hiring techniques.

Implementing Applicant Tracking Systems has streamlined the resume review process, eliminating candidates that don’t meet requirements right off the bat. But there are other ways to create a short-list of high qualified candidates. To begin, conducting phone interviews to is a great way to screen your initial lot of applicants. When done correctly, a phone screening can give you a lot of information a candidate can’t reveal through a resume or LinkedIn profile. Check out these innovative phone interview techniques experts are using these days.

When you’ve narrowed down your list of viable candidates, it’s time to get a little creative for the in-person interviews. Using these nontraditional interview formats allows you to gather real-time, reliable evidence about their assets and problem-solving skills.

Extending the Offer

Congratulations! You’ve found your dream hire and you’re ready to make an offer!

Now it’s time to negotiate a compensation package that is competitive, meets your candidate’s financial needs, and falls within the company’s budget. Take some time to determine the appropriate compensation package for the position, considering all aspects of the job (location, travel, upward mobility, the state of the business, the expectations of the company, etc.). Before the search was launched, your team probably set an expected salary range.  But remember…

Candidates have choices. They are no longer feeling the squeeze to accept any role at any amount not will they take a job for less money (they have too many other options). Few are willing to entertain a lateral move. This means you must be willing to pay more than they are currently making. On average, we are seeing candidates changing jobs for an increase in base pay of 15-25%. Do your due diligence. Research what other companies are offering for similar roles, years of experience, skill sets, etc. Know the competition, determine the minimum the candidate is comfortable with accepting, and the maximum you can afford to pay. You always want to leave room for negotiating.

Recruiters tip:  When it comes to compensation packages it may make sense to enlist the support of a seasoned, well-informed compensation consultant to validate the numbers.

When negotiations are done effectively and for the right position, you’ll be adding a rock star to your team.


You have invested a significant amount of resources to find the perfect candidate. Now you need to make sure they stick around. Left unsupported and underappreciated, nearly 50% of new hires leave their job within 18 months! What a waste of time and effort you put into finding them!

Retention starts the moment your employees step foot in the office.

If you want to attract, engage, and retain top talent, you need an on-boarding program that is on-going. Yes, this means it extends beyond the usual 30 days. According to research, 695 of businesses do not have a formal new employee on-boarding process in place. These companies are all but pushing their new hires out the door!

A solid on-boarding program begins with clearly defining expectations and means of assessment before day one, affirming their decision to join the team. Beyond that, keeping new employees engaged and committed to the organization is done in smaller, less formal ways: a latte from the coffee cart in the lobby, bi-weekly team lunches to discuss progress and problem solve, assigning a mentor or peer as their “go to” person when problems or questions arise, a formal evaluation schedule or process to ensure continued communication and an opportunity for your employees to be informed if they are underperforming or knocking your socks off!

Think you’ve got a stellar onboarding program? See what the experts say.

Keep Improving Your Hiring Process

Like any industry, hiring and recruiting are constantly evolving. As technology advances employers are able to more accurately assess candidates before they walk in the door. But nothing takes the place of face-to-face interaction. Employers must continually keep an eye on hiring trends to be competitive in the marketplace and have access to the best possible candidates available. Don’t just invest in recruiting new employees, invest in your recruiting process.

Download your personal copy of this guide.

More Recruiting Advice