How Many Interviews Does It Take To Hire The Right Person?

I get questions like this almost daily.  The real issue is not how many interviews should an organization conduct before making a decision, but rather how well were the interviews conducted.  The key factor in a quality interview is to answer three simple questions:

1.  Can the person do the job?

2.  Do they want to do the job?

3.  Do we like the candidate?

The problem is that many hiring managers make the decision based on question three by itself, never really diving deeply into the candidates background to objectively answer questions one and two.  Yes, I agree that culture, fit and a candidate’s likability are important; however, not at the expense of the person not being able to do the job required or not wanting to do the job.  In my 20+ years of being in the sales and sales recruitment business, the single most important issue in hiring the right person for the job is to objectively determine the answers to the first two question, can they do the job and do they want to do the job.  If the answers to either or both of these questions is anything but a resounding yes, nothing else matters.

How do you best determine if they can do the work and want to do the work?  Simply put, you must define the job you are looking to fill by specific performance measures.  Most job descriptions outline basic skills, competencies and minimal requirements.  The outcome of what you want someone to do is never stated.  For example, right now I’m working with a company to help them find a sales person in the midwest who is selling a manufactured food product to restaurants, other food manufacturing companies that may use this particular product, hospitals, schools and other foodservice places.  The key to this job is for the sales person in their first 12 months to sell 2 or 3 accounts that are buying $400-500k worth of product annually.

This is a critical piece of the equation, as I now know the questions I have to ask in order to determine what accomplishments a given candidate has done in their past.  The key for me is to look for a track record of selling a food product directly into accounts that my client wants to penetrate and to determine if this candidate has a history of selling larger accounts in the $400-500k range.  If it is determined that they do have such a track record of success that can be validated, the objective likelihood that they can and want to do this type of work with my clients company is high.

We are humans and are subject to biases, stereotypes and emotions in the recruiting and interviewing process.  What we can do in order to counteract this is to develop an objective measuring system to help us remain as objective as possible so that we are not led astray and end up hiring someone based on their ability to get the job, but rather by their ability to actually do the job.

I welcome thoughts, comments and questions.


Antarctic Mike

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About Antarctic Mike

I work with organizations who want their people to be fired up, fully engaged, and focused on growing the business, not merely maintaining it. I'm an avid adventure athlete, having completed marathons and ultra marathons in some of the world's most challenging conditions including the Canadian Arctic, Mount Washington, Siberia and Antarctica. What I've learned through Antarctic history, including preparing for my own Antarctic expeditions, has taught me significant business and sales principles that I now present in my speaking programs.

2 thoughts on “How Many Interviews Does It Take To Hire The Right Person?

  1. Mike, I agree in pricinple, however the question when we asist clients find the right person for a sales position or promote the right person to a senior sales mangement position is how to determine 1 & 2?

    The answer to the first is behaviorally oriented questions, problem solving scenarios and discussions. Behavior coupled with the candidates percsptions as to how they perceive issues is the very best predictor of future performance. Finally, do they want the job is a very problematic because all candidate theoretically want the job, the more pertinent question to asertain is why!

    I have found the harder to determine, yet the best predictor is what is the burn in the belly, almost neurotic they need, that drives them to excell, find out that and you have your decision differentiator.

    • Thanks for the insight Dave and continued success. Yes, the key is to really understand what a person’s true drive is and what it’s fueled by.

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