How to Hire the Best Employees
THE SUCCESS MARGIN
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Every successful business at some point needs to hire
However, the performance of employees in most companies
is average to below average.
Just think about this for a moment. How would you grade
the employees of the companies with whom you do business?
I suspect the majority are low-performance types.
One fact is as clear as a bell. You can't build a great
company without great employees.
The obstacles to effective employee recruitment cannot be
overcome using conventional approaches.
Standard employee recruitment procedures are not very
I've tried every known recruitment technique. These include
employment agencies, ads and referrals.
While on occasion you can find an outstanding employee by
almost any method, by far the most consistently effective
are targeted display and classified ads.
For starters, most companies treat employee recruitment as a
personnel or administrative function.
I see employee recruitment as a marketing function.
Ads allow you to target the right prospects and market your
position, your company and the job opportunity. In contrast
to this approach, employment agencies seem to be more
interested in placing a "body." Instead, placing the right
person in the right job is what any smart entrepreneur wants
Plus, my style of help-wanted ads are so unique and different,
they tend to attract very special candidates.
Here is an example of a recent very effective ad I wrote for
Direct Marketing Superstar
Are you experienced in mail order marketing?
Growing company is looking for a special person
with experience for a dream job. You would be
involved in planning and executing front and
back-end sales programs, as well as handling
certain purchasing responsibilities. Please
send us a convincing letter, CV and salary
history in confidence to ___________.
This ad has brought a huge response of highly-qualified
A key part of the ad are these Magic Words: "Please send a
convincing letter." I’ve found that the ability to sell oneself
is critical, especially in a marketing organization. Plus, if you
can't sell yourself, you’ll never be able to sell a product or
You can "model" your ads in the same style as mine.
The next big challenge is to screen the numerous candidates
you are sure to get.
If the job candidate does not bother to include a personal letter
which answers the ad's requests, I give the application no
further consideration. Clearly, the person does not follow
instructions and may be too lazy, or not motivated enough
to respond appropriately.
You should be seeking people who can express themselves
simply and clearly. Such people are relatively rare.
I grade all candidates on a scale of 1 to 10 on paper, with
10 being the highest. Look for 9's and 10's.
Unfortunately, the experts tell us 83% of job candidates are
untruthful on resumes and job applications. They lie about
their salary. Accomplishments. Education.
As to educational credentials, request a copy of their grades
on the letterhead of the highest educational institution they
Before you invest time in a personal interview, you should
verify a few facts. Here are a couple of things I urge you
Call two or three previous employers of the 9's and 10's.
1.Verify the dates of services to the former employer
2.Verify the previous salary
3.Ask in confidence:
What are the candidate’s strengths?
What are the candidate’s weaknesses?
The above process will either encourage you to arrange a
personal interview. Or it won’t.
During the job interview, primarily look for the right attitude.
While skills are, of course, important, job performance is 80%
attitude and 20% aptitude.
Job candidates tend to get pretty good at typical job interview
Here are some questions I've developed that are far
more penetrating and help reveal the real person. They
also cannot be responded to with a rehearsed answer or
one the candidate thinks you might want to hear. Preface
these questions by stating, "We're not an ordinary company.
I'm going to ask you a few questions which are not typical
or ordinary. These questions will help me get to know you
a little better. There are no right or wrong answers. I'd like
you to answer them or not, as you see fit. Is that OK with
If the prospect says "Fine," then proceed with the questions.
(I've interviewed hundreds of people and never had a prospective
employee balk at the questions.)
1. When you are not working, how do you like to spend
your free time?
2. Do you have any hobbies?
3. What do you like to read? Newspapers? Magazines?
4. What five books that you've read in your life have
influenced you the most?
5. Which single book has had the greatest impact on you?
Would you please share why?
6. In what job-related accomplishment do you take the
7. Please describe the ideal job for yourself.
8. If you were supervising an employee who was not
performing to their abilities in your judgment, what would
you do about the situation?
The above questions will help draw out your candidates.
This may help you make the all-important hiring decision.
TIP: Hire slow. Fire fast.
For years, I did the opposite. I hired fast and fired slow.
If I liked them, that was enough. I'd give them a job.
With my example and training, I always felt I could motivate
them and salvage a non-performing employee. Don't do it.
This is a huge mistake.
While it's indeed possible to change, it does require a
commitment and action to do so. Most people are not
self-motivated or self-responsible enough to change old
It's much more realistic as well as humane to place all new
employees on a 60- or 90-day probation period. If at the
end of the period it's not working out, you'll know it.
Deep down so will they. Usually the job just doesn't fit them.
This is part of life. At this point it's better to sit down,
gently terminate the employee and go your separate ways.
The longer time passes, it's much, much tougher for both you
and them to part company. Of course, as always, treat employees
as you do everyone--with dignity and respect.
Accept reality early. Your business will be more successful.
You'll be happier. You'll experience fewer sleepless nights.
And even your employee can perhaps learn from the experience
and go on to other things.
Hiring employees effectively is one of the most important ways
to create a fantastically successful business.
Look for and hire the very best.
P.S. "The secret to success, in life and in
business, is to work hard at the margin.
Relentlessly. It's as powerful as compound
interest, the eighth wonder of the world.
Those little marginal extra efforts will
inevitably grow into something big."
-- Bill Bonner
Little things mean a lot
"God is in the details"
Copyright 2003 Nicholas Direct, Inc.