3 Tips for Hiring Great People

May 2, 2011

Finding someone to just fill a seat at your company isn’t hard. But finding great people—the ones who fit with your culture, who share your vision, who can make immediate and lasting contributions—can be very difficult. This is true for small and large companies, as the right people can transform any organization.

Here are three ways you can better source and hire truly great people for your company.

Make Time to Hire

One thing all companies have in common is a lack of time. As painful as it may be, the most important factor in hiring great people is devoting time to the process. Schedule it in your day just like you would a client meeting or a business transaction. For example: the first week after posting a job ad, take 30 minutes each morning to download and compile resumes and cover letters; at the end of each day, review them and put aside potential interviewees for follow-up. Then, at the end of the week, review your selections and short-list a group of candidates to phone screen.

For those candidates who pass the phone screen, take an hour at the end of the day to email and invite them to a face-to-face job interview. Meet potential employees in person. Let them know the times you have available. Because interview durations can vary in length depending on the position you’re trying to fill, plan accordingly for high-level candidates who may require a longer interview. If you still have quite a few candidates and need to save time, consider using a free video chat program like Skype to conduct a remote interview.

Yes, hiring right requires a significant investment of your time and energy. But a company can only grow as fast as it can hire great people. Your success as a business depends upon your commitment to the hiring process.

Write a Better Job Posting

In today’s online world, there are millions of jobs out there competing for a potential employee’s attention. In the past, a job seeker would scan the classified section of the newspaper and see at most 1,000 ads throughout a job search. Thanks to the Internet, a job seeker can now quickly search by keyword, industry, location and other criteria, and instantly have access to five million ads before deciding to apply for only a handful of positions. To capture the attention of the most qualified candidates in such a crowded marketplace, your job posting needs to stand out.

Job postings are your first opportunity to make a great impression on a potential hire. We’d all know what to expect of the culture if we went to work at a national company like Google or Gap. They’re household names with distinct corporate personalities. But lesser-known businesses don’t have that degree of widespread brand awareness, and many well-known companies don’t always reconcile their external personality with their recruiting materials. No matter the size of your company, job postings should reflect your culture.

Is your company edgy, innovative, and entrepreneurial? Or do you pride yourself on your solid reputation and traditional business atmosphere? The type of employee who will be a good fit in a start-up tech firm or a fast-paced advertising agency will probably be different from a good fit at a manufacturing plant or an accounting firm. Be honest about your company’s culture and your hiring needs. The tone of your writing should reflect that: it can be playful, humorous, or straightforward. Think about your audience—what would catch the attention of someone you’d want to hire? What would inspire them, and what would they want to know about your company?

Screen for What’s Important

The Saratoga Institute, an HR consultancy firm, found that nearly one in three newly hired employees leave voluntarily or involuntarily before the end of their first year. And the number has been increasing steadily for the last four years. The main reason? Poor culture fit.

Culture fit is important in any company, but is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses. Small and medium-sized businesses need versatile people with a hunger to succeed and an ability to hit the ground running. Personality clashes tend to have a bigger impact in smaller companies, because one person in a 20-person staff already makes up 5% of the company. A poor culture fit drains organizational effectiveness, kills employee morale, and hampers creativity.

The bottom line is that employees who aren’t fully engaged with your company culture won’t give their best on the job. They may not pay attention to the work at hand, may call in sick more frequently, and may miss important project deadlines that can impact the company. Their performance could negatively affect other employees. Additionally, they can be quite expensive—the Saratoga Institute estimates a bad hire will cost a business 50% to 150% percent of the employee’s annual salary.

A good way to screen for cultural fit is to conduct behavioral-based interviews. Ask questions that uncover competencies that you can’t train for, like being a self-starter, possessing good judgment, or having personal integrity. Make sure to conduct a thorough background and reference check before making an offer. It may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it will pay off by ensuring that you hire and retain employees who will work well in your company environment.

Learn More

This article was adapted from’s “10 Tips for Hiring Great People.” For more ways to effectively find and hire great candidates, read the full piece.

What do you think? How do you make sure you’re making a strong hire and not just filling a seat? Share your best tips for other hiring managers and recruiters to learn from in the comments section below.

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