Have you ever wondered what happened to the person you thought was a great hire? What went wrong in the hiring process? What was it that you did not see?

I often think about how difficult it is to get this right and whether there is an easy to way to prevent the mistakes. It is not just the money that the company loses through hiring the wrong person in the wrong job but it also negatively impacts the rest of the team.  It just all adds up. Over the 20 years I have spent recruiting, I have learnt many interviewing and assessing techniques and would like to share with you one that has been proven over and over to be a good indicator of future performance.

Now, I am not suggesting that this is the only way and you do not need to do anything else. Personally, I believe that one must utilise various assessing techniques to increase the probability of hiring the right person.  If I were going to talk about all techniques I like to use then, this article would be very long!

So, here is my No 1 tip.

Peel the onion!

What?! Yes, I know…. I just wanted to come up with an easy slogan to remember.

The question I ask in the interview is:

“Tell me about your most significant achievement?”

Then, I keep asking questions.

What they did?

How they did it?

Who was in the team?

What results they got?

Did they get a reward?

What was the major obstacle? How they overcame it?

What they have learnt? Looking back, what they would have done differently?

All this “onion peeling” helps me to really get to know what the person is made from and what their motivation is. Whether they want to do the job.

For example, if I am hiring for a Quality Assurance position and the candidate starts telling me with excitement about how they developed a new avocado dip then, the chances are they actually do not enjoy QA as much, or they are more excited about new product development positions.  They may have the skills and experience, but it doesn’t make them excited to come to work every day and they do not really want to stay in a QA position.

Similarly, if I am after an Operations / Site Manager to change the culture, reduce staff turnover, and engage staff and the candidate talks about how they improved OEE, reduced wastage and labour costs. Highly likely this person is more result orientated and chances are they probably will increase the staff turnover. 

One final word of advice

Together with the technical skills, hire for attitude!

According to a research conducted by Mark Murphy, whopping 46% of 20,000 new hires failed within 18 months and 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill. The attitudinal deficits that doomed these failed hires included a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament.