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.

Long-term Unemployed? Consider Yourself as Unemployable? Don’t!!

Have you been in Job Transition for more than 6 months? Do you count yourself as one of the long-term unemployed? I (Al Smith) bet you didn’t know there are people who are interviewed throughout the media, proclaimed as experts and quoted ad nauseam stating that you are unemployable! That’s right, there are “experts” preaching a gospel that you should not even be considered if you are a member of the long-term unemployed.

The most insidious reason for not considering the long-term unemployed comes from one of these so-called experts who more-or-less says, Once you’re jobless more than 6 months, HR considers you unemployable. This propaganda has been repeated so often it is taken as fact. I was speaking recently at a career event where a participant explained that she had been told by a career ministry volunteer, “It will be very difficult for you,” since she had been jobless in excess of six months.

Are you the unemployable garbage [my term] the above pundits claim?

As a speaker and/or volunteer on a weekly basis, I’ve have seen thousands of individuals in transition over the past five years. The first career meeting I went to probably had in excess of three hundred attendees; I was aghast. My initial thought about that group was that there was enough talent to populate a decent size company. After learning more about them, my initial impression was proven accurate.

How about we look at one of these “unemployable, lazy slobs?” YOU

I am willing to bet that you were good at your job, but for whatever reason (economic downturn, acquisition, redundancy, etc.) that position disappeared. The fact that you lost your job doesn’t diminish the fact that you were good at what you did. Moreover, you’re probably busting your tail doing everything you know to return to the ranks of the employed, leaving those “hefty unemployment checks” in the dust. (If you’re so lucky to be getting benefits.) Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a perfect storm that is forcing outstanding talent, like you, into long-term unemployment.

Could your timing have been worse?

Despite the Department of Labor’s proclamation that the worst recession since the Great Depression has ended; that the stock market is hitting record highs; that companies are sitting on unprecedented amounts of cash; and that employees are required to do the work of many, real unemployment remains stubbornly high. (4.1Million; 36.1% of the total jobless in the USA are long-term unemployed according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

“The majority are older white men, according to the Labor Department, including many college-educated workers who rebounded from job losses earlier in their careers, only to see employment prospects dim in what should be their prime earning years,” stated Northwestern University’s Andrew Sum in Meghan Woolhouse’s Boston Globe article, Joblessness Hits Older Workers Hard; Time Is Not On Their Side.

You picked on me, what about the rest of the unemployed population?

In the state where I live, Georgia, we have the 5th worst long-term unemployment in the USA with 56% of the total in transition being unemployed for more than 13 months, as stated in Michael E. Kanell’s 2012 article on the subject. Nationally, according to the Department of Labor, the average time in transition is 40.4 weeks. That’s over nine (9) months – on AVERAGE!

So let me see if we understand. The vast majority of those unemployed are in transition more than nine (9) months, but the great experts state that you ‘need not apply’ after only six (6) months. Hmmm…Average 9 months unemployed, unemployable at 6 months

Fair is fair. We looked at you and others, let’s peel back the onion on one of the “experts”?

I did a little research on one of the people everyone seems to quote and interview. This person has had exactly two (2) jobs since attaining a Masters Degree (there is no job listed for the five (5) years between BA and MA). And according to the person’s LinkedIn profile, one of those jobs was as Vice President of Human Resources at the company that is purportedly is the reason for leaving Human Resources.

How does someone with ZERO experience become V. P. of Human Resources?

Good question. I have a few suspicions, but I wish I had an equally good answer. The other “job” of the two has been the person’s own company. Nothing wrong with that, but if someone has been out of the field of Human Resources in excess of a decade and been removed from direct contact with the industry (with only a few years’ experience in total), how does one maintain the status of an expert?

Ah ha! A bestselling book or two (without much of anything else in an entire career). What else?

Our human resources expert du jour cannot claim 500 LinkedIn connections (the level that most legitimate HR executives consider minimum acceptable), has virtually no endorsements, nor any other experience that one would expect to see from an oracle who can seemingly ruin the lives of otherwise valuable members of society.

Is writing a book or two and claiming to be a guru enough to bamboozle everyone?

Apparently so. But with having examined countless people’s experience levels, my conclusion is that YOU are much more deserving of a job and a bright future. You may not choose to take my word for it, but I believe you still have value. And from where I stand, that person (and others of the same ilk) should have no platform from which to speak.

Oh, you should read what some legitimate, experienced Human Resource Managers and Talent Acquisition Executives have to say about the person’s assertions. Yikes!

What can I do now?

My suggestion is that you start by reclaiming your value. You were a good employee in the past and will be an asset to your next employers. Now comes the hard part: you need to do more and work harder than other candidates out there, just like you did when you were employed.

Dig into your past to uncover your accomplishments, even group accomplishments. Unearth the keywords that legitimate recruiters seek from people with your title and background. State them on your resume and in self-created marketing brochures and throughout every online profile. Establish yourself as a Brand that solves the problems in the department of your expertise.

Yes, you have Red Flags, but so does every other candidate. But if you recognize them going in and create STAR stories that showcase your value proposition and/or minimize their concerns beforehand, you will succeed in your search. You have value.

You ARE employable! You WILL get a job.

It was our distinct pleasure to be able to join the talented Angela Hemans on the  recent taping of Blue Print Your Career . She was a great host and it was a session that we tremendously enjoyed.  Angela clearly focused on the contents of the book and walked away with a sense of this is truly something which every job seeker should be reading. This was quite evident due to the headline she displayed on the blog cast recap on her website:

“Job Hunting? In Career Transition? Then You Must Read “Hired! The Path To Employment In The Social Media Era””

The complete edited podcast is available here for your review. For those so inclined to read just skim through the contents of the podcast before listening to it, Angela has provided an excellent summary below.

It would be greatly appreciated if you reach out to Anglea and start following her on Twitter at  @ultrasoundangie and on the other social media channels on her website www.blueprintyourcareer.com. We know that you won’t be disappointed.

Angela provided

Topics Discussed

  • We start the discussion on how long the book took to be created and why they decided to write a book like this that covers a multitude of topics relating to job hunting, the interview process, and strategies to use.
  • Jeff and Al go over their extensive backgrounds and share personal stories, and what motivated them to author this book.
  • They share their knowledge and how they continue to help job seekers, and people in career transition to develop their business skills.
  • How the website  TransitionSherpa was created.
  • What questions people going through a career change should be asking themselves before they start the job hunting process.
  • Al and Jeff shares what groups of people will benefit from the book “HIRED! Paths to Employment in the Social Media Era”
  • A discussion takes place about the current job process for those currently job hunting.
  • Strategies and Tactics on how to organize your resume for optimal results are shared in this interview.
  • Are paid resume services really needed?
  • Tactics for Linkedin and Twitter are discussed and how to network effectively, efficiently, and ethically.
  • What are “Rich Keywords.” How to use keywords in your resume.
  • Jeff gives insight to how H.R. recruiters find potential employees and what you need to know to shine among a sea of applicants.
  • Why and How you should be using word clouds to develop your resume.
  • Questions you should be asking during your job interview and Al shares what is the most powerful question you need to know.
Tools Mentioned