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The Key to Hiring and Keeping the Best

The Key to Hiring and Keeping the Best

Of course, you want to attract and keep great people. Here are four steps you can take to recruit the best and keep them:

1. Define What Your New Hire Needs to Do

Take the time to define what you need the person in this job to accomplish. Believe it or not, this critical step is often overlooked. By first defining exactly what you need accomplished and then hiring to those requirements, you may well open your eyes to an ideal candidate you would otherwise not have considered.

A marketing services firm I worked with typically hired salespeople from within its industry. But the company’s two top salespeople previously sold in completely unrelated industries. Defining what made these two successful — their ability to open doors and be hands-on in the delivery of solutions — was the key to hiring more similar salespeople. Industry experience was helpful, but only when added to these two fundamental skills.

2. Have Candidates Describe Individual Accomplishments in Detail

Now that you have defined who you are looking for and have begun interviewing, here is a simple but powerful rule that will reduce your hiring mistakes: Focus on understanding the candidate’s individual accomplishments. Someone who has accomplished something can describe in great detail how he did it. Ask all candidates to give details in the first person on what they have accomplished in past roles and jobs.

This is not always easy. Many people want to describe things in the plural, saying, “We did this; we did that.” This does not necessarily mean they are trying to fool you, but neither does it help you understand what a candidate accomplished personally. Lay the ground rules early, and keep people on track throughout the interview. If someone cannot describe in detail how he accomplished something, the candidate may be overstating his involvement in the accomplishment.

3. Ask Your Top Candidates What They Want

If you are genuinely interested in a job seeker, communicate that interest by taking the time to understand what the candidate is really looking for in his next role. Take the time to ask questions that will help you learn about the person’s goals and desires. And then listen carefully to the answers. Ask follow-up questions.

What you learn may help you shape the job description for the people you ultimately hire. You’ll also be conveying that you take a genuine interest in these people, and few executives do that during the interview process. As a result, you will stand out in their minds. If your interest is sincere, this is one of the most effective recruiting tools at your disposal.

After college, I had 20 to 30 interviews with different people and companies. By far, the best interview was with an executive of one particular company. He did not aggressively try to sell the company to me or offer me a lot of money. He just asked me what I really wanted out of a job, and then he listened intently to my answers — something no other interviewer had done. He paraphrased back to me what I had said, and asked, “Do I have it? Is that what you are saying?” I walked out of the interview sky high. I ultimately chose to work for that company.

4. You Are the Key to Getting and Keeping the Best

The best people want opportunities to do the best projects, to work with the best clients, and to develop personally and professionally. These people can always get a job (even in a down economy), but they have a hard time finding an organization (and a boss) that is actively interested in helping them develop and achieve. Simply put, good people want good bosses.

Write down the name of the best boss you ever had. Why did you love working for this person? Chances are, it wasn’t his intelligence or technical ability. More likely, confidence was the key. The best bosses believe in themselves and their people, and this translates into a work environment compelling enough to entice a talented person to take a job and stay with it.