4 Tips For Hiring The Best Candidates


How many times have you heard that in order to be successful you need to surround yourself with great people? I’m sure it’s been thousands of times during your career. Anyone who currently does, or has done, any hiring is always looking for the best people to hire. It not only helps their firm, but makes them look good.

You wonder, however, how do I ensure that I hire the best people? What do they look like? What questions do I ask?

By coincidence, I unexpectedly ran into a former neighbor of mine, Steve Kollross , the other day while I was out having coffee. Steve is now semi-retired, after enjoying a successful career with Bristol-Meyers Scribb. Being with my co-author, Al Smith, of Hired! Paths to Employment in the Social Media Era , we were excited to be able to share the book with Steve and our future plans for additional books. This resulted in a worthwhile discussion with him concerning the whole hiring process and what makes for a successful hire. Needless to say, all three of us have hired a number of great people during our careers, but Steve clearly has done far more of it.


Hiring presents a real challenge for businesses. Not only is it an arduous process which most people hate, it is time consuming, expensive, and extremely costly. Furthermore, if new hires don’t work out it can be an embarrassment for those involved in the process and a real financial burden. The problem is that bad hires now seem to be the norm rather than the exception. In fact, a study done earlier this year in Australia by advisory firm CEB indicated that some 90% of employers had regretted their hiring decisions. What? Are you telling me that 90% are misfits? I thought that with the use of ATS Systems (Applicant Tracking), panel interviews, and all the other new bells and whistles that it had become a flawless process and that everyone was a good fit.


Steve elaborated on a concept which he had used for a number of years at Bristol-Meyers Squibb which proved to be instrumental in hiring many great people. It was simple, but powerful; namely, you should look at the process as a four leg table. This is particularly critical for the hiring of salespeople. The four legs for hiring are that you should make sure that the candidates possess the following accomplishments and qualities:

1)Successful Track Records
Past performance is always a predictor of how they will do in the future. What they did and the levels of success they achieved are critical factors to evaluate. Have them tell you verbally, but also ask them to provide physical evidence where available, that supports their claims. The most important piece is asking the candidate to provide copies of their last 5 performance reports (in addition to documenting promotions, awards, and bonus earnings). A top candidate will proactively produce more than that, with no gaps in years. Candidates who can’t provide copies of performance reports, or who have gap in the reports they provided, should raise a red flag in the hiring manager’s mind. In addition, to validate their educational achievements, you should require that they provide you with copies of their college transcripts.
Finally, as a Hiring Manager looking for outstanding people, you certainly want to understand a candidate’s leadership qualities and potential. By providing documentation of leadership roles and experiences you will gain a clear understanding of that person’s track record.

2)Intellectual Capital
It’s important that a candidate be able to demonstrate that they can cope with the skills required of the job. Do they have the intellect to function in the role for which they are being hired? What have been the backgrounds of those who have thrived in the position and within the company?

3)Persuasive Communication Skills
The whole interview process is a sales exercise. In this case, the candidate is selling one product; themselves. How do they do in promoting their brand? If they can’t sell themselves it is highly unlikely that they’ll be able to sell the products or services that they will be required to sell as part of the organization. What unique qualities do they have? Can they clearly communicate this?

You want to hire people who are hungry (motivated). What are the deep-seated values/motivation that drive this person? Steve offered that he often found a wide variety of things motivated people. Al and I have experienced the same. As a Hiring Manager, however, the challenge is to understand each candidate’s motivators to ensure that the position they’re applying for will best meet those needs. Not only will it be an initial good fit, but during the onboarding and career of the individual the company will be recognized as one that supports and recognizes their inner drivers. This will lead to greater extra effort and an employee who is more likely to thrive and succeed on a consistent basis.


Next time, when you’re sourcing a candidate think of the four leg table analogy. After all, the last thing you want is to be is another one of the 90% who are not happy with their selection a year from now. You want to reverse it so that you’re pleased with 90%+ of your hires. Not only will it help your firm, but it will benefit you professionally, as well as personally. More importantly, you’ll be able to sleep at night and not have to worry about the ineffective candidate you hired.