I was conducting a performance-based hiring interview workshop for recruiters and hiring managers last week. During the opening remarks I asked the group how much better they wanted to become as a result of this course. The responses ranged from 20 to 100 percent. I suggested that becoming 20 percent better at anything required nothing more than being more efficient. However, to be 100 percent better you have to throw out your old playbook and totally rethink the problem. This is probably true about life in general, but since the course was about hiring, I told the group to do these six things to become 100 percent better at hiring.

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How to become 100 percent better at hiring

  1. Define the job before you define the person. I've been successfully recruiting extraordinarily talented people for more than 35 years. I won't take an assignment unless the hiring manager knows what the person needs to accomplish in order to be considered successful. If the hiring manager doesn't know what these performance objectives are, the chance of finding a great person who can and wants to do them is problematic.
  2. Assess the quality of the person's results, not the quality of the person. Rather than assess the personal characteristics of the candidate, first evaluate the candidate's accomplishments. The simplest way is to use the one-question performance-based interview. Then compare the candidate's accomplishments with what you need done. Not surprising but somewhat counterintuitive, if the person has accomplished something comparable in a similar environment, he or she will possess the exact personal characteristics you're seeking.
  3. Wait 30 minutes before making any yes/no decision. More hiring errors are made in the first 30 minutes of the interview than any other time. Research has shown that we all look for facts to justify our instant judgment about a person. This is the rationalization effect in action. To counterbalance this, you should use the first 30 minutes of the interview to prove your instant evaluation is wrong. Winning this simple mind game will prevent at least 50 percent of future hiring mistakes.
  4. Don't negotiate the compensation (or anything else for that matter) before the candidate understands the job. When I talk with a candidate about a job, I start off by saying, "Let's ignore the compensation for a bit and explore the chance the job might represent a career move. If so, we can figure out if the final package makes sense." The point: Changing jobs for a fully employed and extraordinary person involves a detailed understanding of the job, the opportunity, and the circumstances. Preventing this discussion by straining people through some arbitrary and highly negotiable filters is a sure-fire way to miss the chance to see and hire the right person for the right reasons.
  5. Eliminate gladiator voting by implementing a "wisdom of the crowd" approach. Adding up yes/no votes based on a series of short or biased interviews is unlikely to result in an accurate prediction of on-the-job performance. Using a quality of hire talent scorecard, on which interviewers are assigned a subset of factors to assess and their evidence is shared, will profoundly increase assessment accuracy.
  6. Think differently. Out-of-the-box thinking starts by recognizing you're in one. This applies to anyone who wants to be 100 percent better at anything, not just 20 percent more efficient.