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Your Guide to Hiring Million Dollar Talent

Hiring is one of the most critical decision-making processes that a business goes through while it develops and grows over the years, as the quality of these decisions can impact the growth and fortune of the business for years to come.

Following a strategic and measurable plan for identifying, attracting, and hiring your ideal candidates is the recipe for a successful hire. There are several steps involved in this process, but it all starts with developing The FACT-Driven Hiring System.

The FACT-Driven Hiring System includes:

  • Creating the FRAMEWORK for identifying and attracting your ideal candidates is the foundation of your hiring efforts.
  • Learning to ATTRACT talent effectively by using best hiring practices and paying attention to employer branding and the experience of your candidates will result in A+ talent.
  • Next, evaluating your CANDIDATES with insightful tools that help make screening fast and easy for you to determine who will become your absolute rockstar employees.
  • Lastly, implementing a TRAINING and on-boarding plan as the final step will ensure that your rockstars hit the ground running with everything they need to be successful toward creating long-lasting business results.


Creating the Framework

Creating a framework sets the stage for the success of your new hires. In order to hire the right fit candidate, and even before you begin thinking of the type of candidate you want to hire, you need to create the basis for the job role, which starts by taking an in-depth analysis of the position. One you’ve done a thorough analysis, you need to create a job description that explains the role in technical detail, create a candidate profile that outlines your ideal candidate, put together a candidate scorecard against which to measure and assess potential fits, and finally, detail a job advertisement that will serve to attract your candidates to your job.

In-Depth Analysis of the Role

Taking an in-depth analysis of the role you’re hiring for is an attempt to understand the position inside out so you can ensure you find a candidate who will meet all of your objectives and help deliver business goals.

The following questions are some you’ll want to ask yourself as you evaluate the role:

  1. What do you want someone in this role to accomplish?
  2. What goals or metrics are critical in this role?
  3. What is the position responsible for accomplishing in measurable terms?
  4. What are the actual duties and expectations of the role?
  5. What kind of skills or special training is needed?
  6. What makes this role unique?
  7. What are the challenges of the position?

Answering these questions will allow you to conclude firmly what you expect someone to accomplish in this position and how this role affects and contributes to the overall objectives of your business and goals. Once you’ve identified what you expect out of someone in this position, you’re tasked with evaluating certain attributes of the position that make it unique, what kind of training or skills are needed, and what do you want someone in this role to deliver in measurable results?

Now that you’ve analyzed the position in detail, you’re ready to create a formal, technical job description that will be used as a guideline for both your firm and for the employee that assumes the role to stay on track and cognizant of expectations.

Writing the Job Description

Unfortunately, most job descriptions are poorly written. From entry-level sales positions to CEO-level executive roles, they all say the same things; everyone should have high attention to detail and be organized. Everyone also needs to be a fluid, effective communicator who can also multitask quickly while managing client and employee relationships effectively. Sure that sounds great, but is it all practical? Is it all necessary? Is it enough to keep your next superstar candidate’s interest?

Keep in mind your own objectives when writing your description. You want to engage the candidate, offer a brief description of the company and the position, duties, and expectations. Most importantly though, you want to describe performance expectations; how will this candidate be assessed? How will these objectives offer the candidate the opportunity to grow their own skill set?

When writing your job description remember that this document serves as a formal document that describes job responsibilities, is filled with expectations, descriptive company and background information, and forecasts a career trajectory with your company. Oftentimes, this description can and will also be used as a legal document, which both parties sign upon agreeing to the terms of the job offer. As such, a job description should clearly define each of the many things that a candidate can expect in their new position. It might call attention to the company objectives and goals; it might also describe a list of duties that this particular role is responsible for managing; it can even be an exhaustive list or summary of every task your new candidate can expect to encounter. Generally job descriptions are formal and technical, use dry language, and belong nowhere on a job board!

When writing your job description, you’ll want to come up with 2-4 of the most critical key performance indicators that you’ll use to measure someone’s success in the role. Additionally, you’ll take inventory of whether there are any special skills, training, certifications, degrees, or level of education or experience necessary for the role.


To help you create your list of KPIs, you’ll want to use SMART goals, which stands for “Specific,” “Measurable,” “Achievable,” “Relevant,” and “Time-Bound.” Ensure that your goals can be measured in these formats and you’ll easily be able to hold someone accountable for achieving the goals and they will likewise be able to know where they stand in terms of achieving them.

A good job description governs every action and decision we will make in the hiring process so we need to make it rock solid.


What is the purpose of the job? This has to be crystal clear. It should be like a mini mission statement that guides all decisions and actions someone in this role will be making everyday that will lead towards achieving specific measurable goals.


The mission or purpose of the role should be tied to 1 key governing metric and each of the roles and responsibilities are tied to supporting metrics  or Key Performance Indicators KPI’s related to each of the core job activities.

Activities (Actionable):

These are descriptive key activities that the person in this role will be doing often that will lead to producing a specific and measurable results.


Setting realistic goals is very important. If none of your aeronautical engineers on your team have ever been to Mars, then it’s not likely your new hire will be able to fly there either. To determine your realistic goals, take a look at your job analysis you brainstormed before creating your job description. These analyses can be complex and detailed, or they can be more informal. Either way, the key will be to survey the people doing this role already to understand what poor, average, and superior performance looks like in relation to the KPI’s or measurable outcomes. Next, you’ll want to inquire about and seek to describe how the good performers go about achieving the outcomes they are producing.

If you’re hiring for a new role with no one currently doing the job, defining the benchmark gets trickier. You will need to use some common sense techniques to determine if the goals are realistic or not.

For example, if one of the KPI’s is to make 1,000 cold calls per day, maybe you should do some research and figure out what some typical ranges are for telemarketers using the tools you are providing your new hire. You might discover manual dialing telemarketers on average only make about 200 dials per day, while those using an assisted power dialer make 600, and those using a full automated dialer can make up to 2,000 per day. Use this research to determine your measurable and realistic expectations.

Time Bound:

Creating goals that are time-bound is pretty straightforward. For goals associated with the overall mission for your business, we are probably looking at a time frame of 30, 90 and 365 days. For more specific activities, the time frame might be daily, weekly, monthly. For projects and other tasks that aren’t continuous or recurring, there could be milestones with varying time frames identified tailored to the situation.

EXERCISE: Think about your next new hire and what role they will fill. Now, list as many measurable outcomes a star performer in this position will produce. Try to use real life numbers that reflect what other existing star performers actually produce be realistic. 

Now use the SMART strategy to clarify the mission this job will be tasked with accomplishing. 

Creating the Candidate Profile

A candidate profile is a synopsis of the type of candidate you want to hire. It includes information such as a list of qualities, characteristics, past achievements, experiences, or talents that you want in a candidate. Each of these should tie back to a measurable expectation or SMART Goal.

The data is structured in a way that prioritizes from most important to least important, such as:

  • Must-Have
  • Nice-To-Have
  • No Longer Important
  • Absolutely Not


These are the types of skills or characteristics that are absolutely critical to your position, meaning you won’t hire a candidate who doesn’t check all these boxes. You want to keep these to around 2-3 bullet points.

For example, if you’re hiring for a Senior Accountant position, it’s probably pretty necessary that your candidate has experience working with Excel spreadsheets and feels comfortable using QuickBooks. If you’re hiring an outside salesperson, you might want to add a characteristic here that your candidates are assertive and outgoing.

There will be a lot of temptation to add 47 things to this part of the list, but unicorns and purple squirrels don’t exist, so don’t go looking for them because you’ll drive yourself and everyone else mad.

If you must add more than 3 qualities try hard to keep it to no more than 5-7 qualities and for sure not more than 10. We will get to the rest later.


This list is where you put the 5-7 qualities you would like a candidate to have. It is more realistic that you may have 5-15 qualities in this part and 2-5 in the “Must-Have” category. If your total number of qualities in both categories is more than 10 or 15 max, then it is extremely difficult to focus clearly on the specific qualities that drive success and the less important qualities that may not drive success can easily outweigh the critical qualities causing your candidate to fail.

The nice to have characteristics are those that are not absolutely critical but helpful for a candidate to have. You want to keep these to around 2-3 bullet points.

For example, if you’re hiring for a Senior Accountant position, you might desire that they have 5-10 years of experience working with corporate accounting and tax, but would still consider someone with only 3-5 years if other credentials were impressive enough to justify it.

No Longer Important

Here is where are all the remaining qualities that did not make the “Must-Have” or “Nice-to-Have” list. After careful consideration and thought about what is really required of someone in the job, hopefully many of the qualities you thought were absolutely necessary will end up here.

If you are finding it difficult to cut your required and preferred candidate qualities down substantially, you may want to take another look at your job analysis findings and your job description to ensure they are actually realistic.

Absolutely Not / Dealbreakers

In this section, you’ll want to list every possible characteristic or scenario that would cause you to pause on a candidate or one that would prevent them from becoming employed with your firm. Again, we want to stick to 2-3 characteristics, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. If you only have 1-2 things, that’s fine.

For example, if you’re hiring a delivery driver, one of your “Absolutely Not’s” could be a positive drug screen. If you’re hiring a bank teller, you might request a credit check and if you find incriminating evidence suggesting fraud or excessive debt, this might be a cause to pass on that candidate. Those attributes would go in this section.

Candidate Scorecard

Creating a candidate scorecard allows you to structure your interview process with a systematic questionnaire that you can use to assess all of your candidates.

The candidate scorecard system allows you to create structured interview guides by position type, collect objective quantitative interviewer scoring on candidate interview performance, collect qualitative supporting evidence to qualitative interviewer scoring, helps with building stronger job descriptions, streamlines creating candidate profiles used to evaluate candidates readiness for the job being hired for, helps with employee performance evaluation post hire, has The Hire Talent’s Power Interview guide built in for more effective phone and initial interviews, and allows you to compare interviewer evaluations to more objectively assess candidates among multiple interviewers.

These features all result in more compliant, predictive, organized and effective hiring process. The scorecard allows you to build a framework for interviewers to follow together allowing for greater organization and preparation.


Interviewing problems that a candidate scorecard helps you solve:

Owners have to do all the interviews
  • Is a great tool for creating structured interview guides by position type so they can delegate interviews to other team members
Discrimination Concerns
  • HR Managers can’t trust their hiring managers are being consistent and non-discriminatory with line of questioning and criteria for making hires
Disjointed hiring practices
  • Owners/hiring managers can use the same language and criteria to assess candidates instead of personal bias and vocabulary getting lost in translation
  • Reduces clutter, messy paper notes and organization, puts everything in one place for anyone to access
Performance Review Process 
  • Scorecards can be used for any position to assess employee growth

Once you’ve analyzed your job thoroughly, created a job description, candidate profile and candidate scorecard to assess candidates in the interview process, you’re ready to move on to the next step in the process; ATTRACTING candidates.


Attracting & Engaging Talent Quickly

Attracting and engaging talent to your open jobs takes a little bit of skill and a lot of planning and strategy. First and foremost, your strategy should start with reaching out to your network for referrals. If you already have a solid team of talented employees, chances are they know other talented employees who may be looking or at least interested in hearing about a new opportunity. Soliciting referrals from your network, other colleagues, or your top employees is a great start to attracting the best talent for your business.

The next step in attracting talent is ensuring that your job ad speaks to your candidate’s desires, needs, and goals within a new opportunity. It has to be all about them and what they stand to gain from this new experience. In a tight labor market, candidates want to know what they stand to get out of the opportunity, so they’re not interested in hearing all about you. You’re important too, but when it comes to a job ad, you should keep it candidate-focused as its goal is to attract top talent to your job.

Once you’ve got a job ad you’re proud of, taking to job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Monster, and CareerBuilder to reach as wide of an audience as possible is where a lot of your traffic will come from. Be sure to engage with niche job boards in your industry as well, such as college boards and others that your ideal candidate might be looking at for a new opportunity.

Applicant tracking systems are a great tool to use in managing your candidates. ATS’s allow you to keep everything in one place, streamline your process, allow others on the team to review and manage candidates in various departments, create custom messaging templates, and even administer pre-hire testing.

Other strategies for recruiting candidates include passive methods, such as collecting resumes when you’re not actively looking to fill a position but still want to keep an active pipeline. You might decide to partner with a recruiting service where you outsource all or part of the process, such as sourcing candidates. Even still, paying attention to employer branding, like monitoring your online presence on your website, your website’s career page, any online review sites you may be a part of like Yelp! or Glassdoor, and even your social media. Candidates are checking you out before they apply for a job with you, so you should be aware of what your branding says about you.


Once source estimates that 71% of candidates look to referrals from current employees of a company when searching for a job and as high as 68% look to their network of friends or family members. Another claims that 82% of employers rated employee referrals above all other sources for generating the best ROI. In terms of hiring new candidates, it is estimated that 30% of new hires come from employee referrals, referred candidates are 55% faster to hire than those sourced through traditional methods, and companies can save as much as $3,000 per hire or more through the use of employee referral programs.

If you think of your best candidates on the job, chances are they know someone else who is also a rockstar. Doesn’t it make sense that you start there first? Especially in a tight labor market, it’s easiest (and cheapest) to start from this platform because you can easily connect with dozens of potential candidates who are more open and willing to hear about an opportunity, since they were referred or told of your position from their friend or family member.

Employee Referral Programs

Employee referrals can be an amazing way to find great employees and an ever-increasing number of job openings are filled through referrals by candidates and friends. Getting a referral candidate can relieve stress associated with hiring, speed up the hiring process, and help reduce turnover. At the same time, hiring those recommended by employees can have drawbacks.

Use employee referrals wisely and you will take advantage of its benefits while avoiding the pitfalls.

The Referral Process

The best way to get referrals of sufficient quantity and quality is to make your business a good place to work. There’s no need to offer rewards for these referrals and they are often the most genuine.

You should solicit referrals before posting the job online or elsewhere. This can save you time and money but also keeps you from interviewing candidates just for the sake of formality. However, be sure you don’t assume that you the referrals you get are going to be good enough.

Many structured employee-referral programs offer some kind of monetary bonus for referrals who are hired and retained for a certain period of time (often 90 days). The reward amount should be sufficient to motivate employees to make referrals but not so large that they offer referrals who are unqualified for the positions.


There are many benefits to hiring through employee referrals. Some of the biggest are:

  • Likelihood of quality. Employees generally recommend only quality candidates. No one wants to be embarrassed by the person they refer.
  • Save time and money. Saving time and money might be the biggest benefit of a successful referral. Referrals fill positions in an average of about thirty days, ten to twenty less than other methods.
  • Build a network. Even if you don’t have an opening, meeting referrals can create contacts and start you on your candidate pool for next time.
  • Increase employee desire to stay and do well. Use referrals to get candidates for seasonal and temporary positions. These hires sometimes leave before they are scheduled to; if they were given a boost by a referral, they may be more reluctant to do so.


  • Diversity reduction. Referrals can mean that you hire people who are very like one another. This can decrease diversity of backgrounds, personality type or beliefs. You can get stuck with the same type of thinking rather than find employees who will bring new ideas or a different type of energy. This is not an extreme drawback, but it’s worth considering.
  • Personal issues. One problem that can result from hiring people who already know one another is, of course, personal conflict. From cliques to fallouts, these issues can’t be controlled by you. It’s simply a matter of the employees acting properly. There is not much more risk of these issues happening with referrals than with any other hire.

Below is a great example of an employee referral plan in place. Feel free to use this template as a starting point and edit it to fit your own needs:

7 Simple steps to executing a successful employee referral program

Internal eMail Communications

Create a some simple emails that contain all the information our employees will need to successful share the good word with the world about your amazing job opportunities, the email should contain the following critical info:

The benefit for your employee to recruiting their friends and family to come work with them. Maybe it’s something like working with people you love is amazing share this new accounting position with the world! Or maybe, wanna help your friends out? Help them elevate their career by sharing the new Business Development position that just opened up in our sales department!

The complete job advertisement as an attachment and as link to your career page. Don’t make it hard to share the message!

Links to easily share the post on social media, oh yeah, don't forget that big old CALL TO ACTION. Since 68% of adults in the USA and the average Facebook user has  338 Friends that means a company of 100 employees has a 1st degree connection with over 33,800 potential new hires!

Social Media Posts

Put a little swager into your efforts to promote these great opportunities you have to offer. Get your marketing consultant, team or most social butterfly to put together some great Social Media posts that you can use to attract those 33,800 friends of your best employees to engage, apply and share your opportunity. Imagine if you could just get 10% of your employees friends to share your job opportunity that would be 3,380 (10% of your companies 1st degree connections) X 338 (avg. number of friends) = 1,142,440 potential 2nd Degree connections you could get the word out to!

Hype it Up One on One

Nobody rallies around a single email transmission among the thousands they get everyday, people are not just going to jump into action after being asked to share the recent job openings at the last staff meeting along with the 15 other super duper important announcements and company initiatives. Each team leader and executive has to make it a point to remind people one on one or in small huddles how great it would be for them to share these amazing opportunities. Not once but all the time make it a big deal, make it part of your company culture!

Contests and Incentives

Not just for successful new hires but for any candidate referrals at all! Hiring is a numbers game just like sales and marketing. Sure it would be great to have a laser like target on your ideal candidate but that is less likely. Encourage people to refer freely and reward them for what they can control, which is the connection with one of their friends! No matter how well intentioned or great your people are they can’t be expected to know exactly what the boss is looking for in the next rockstar hiring. If the system makes team members think twice is this friend or that friend really a fit then it becomes easier for them to do nothing at all.

Instead make the reward, recognition and incentive to refer people center around the quantity of people referred than the quality. The don’t worry the cream will rise to the top by following our expert FACT based candidate evaluation system.

What kind of incentives should you offer? It almost doesn’t matter winners want to win at everything. Through them a raffle, pizza party, give them a half day off for the person who refers the most new candidates, give them $100 or $1,000 for each successful new hire, the bottom line is just about anything you offer that has sincere recognition is going to make your rockstars feel appreciated. Money, days off and pizza are great incentives too, no matter what you pay it’s a fraction of what it would cost you to go out and find this person on your own.

Your Sales and Marketing Team

It is their job to promote your company to world and convince people your product service and company is the best ever, so why wouldn’t they be the ideal candidates for promoting your great opportunities.

Sales people interact with your customers who are either directly knowledgeable about your industry so are likely to have transferable skills sets. If you are selling to the end consumer those people have first hand knowledge of the greatness you product or service offers and can take their enthusiasm for what you do to another level.

Marketing teams should know how to get the word out about anything your company is doing. They also know how to expertly craft engaging messages all they have to do is tweak those from the customers perspective and point it at the potential new hires!

Manage it All With an Applicant Tracking System

You need to have a way to make getting the word out internally and for making it easy for your best team players to share the message with the world. A great ATS makes automating reminders, providing easy to share job post links, videos and tracking of who your top refers are so easy you could practically do it in your sleep.

Also where are you going to put the thousands of resumes that come pouring in after you launch this amazing employee referral program??

If you are at all serious about hiring you need a tool to help automate, organize and track the progress of your efforts, a decent to great ATS is the only way to save tons of time.

Follow up, Follow Through, and Stick With it

Look nothing is so easy that one email or social post is going to change the world, unless you are some international Instafamous celebrity type with a bazillion followers. It’s like drinking coffee in the morning, at first it tasted bad but once you realized how awake it made you, you made it a habit. Once you make executing the first 6 steps in the employee referral road map like drinking coffee, it’s pretty easy.

Employee referrals are a great and much-used way to fill positions. Whether you want to solicit referrals outright or simply take them into consideration as they come up, you are likely to benefit from them. Be sure that you apply the same scrutiny to referrals as candidates you find elsewhere.

Writing Creative Job Ads

Job advertisements serve as one of the main ways to attract candidates to your opportunities. Unlike a job description, job ads are written with more colorful language and are intended to attract candidates to apply for your opportunity.

It is important to keep the following in mind when creating a job ad:

  • They are marketing pieces
  • You want a good balance of company and position profile information
  • Always list out the measurable expectations you have of a candidate
    • It calls attention to what is expected of the candidate within the first 3, 6, and 9 months of employment
    • It outlines what candidates can expect on the job as a whole
  • Should be written in a positive, engaging and captivating tone of voice
    • It’s interesting to read
  • It sets the scene for the candidate to imagine what “a day in the life” is like with the company

A key part of a good job ad is speaking directly to the candidate’s wants and desires.

costs-of-hiring banner

You also want to properly communicating why your company is such a great choice for a candidate to work for. In doing so, you want to highlight who you are, why you exist by highlighting your company mission, vision and core values. To do this, you might want to include social media links so candidates can check out your profile feeds to get a better idea about your company and culture.

Another component of this is to think about including employe reviews or testimonials because these can help persuade candidates to look further into your opportunity.

Make sure your ad hits all these points:
  • It’s not too long (3-4 pages is like a novel)
  • It can’t be too short either (brevity is only good on twitter and it doesn't communicate properly
  • Exhaustive bullet lists (the following is a list of the expected duties and responsibilities that are not limited to… snooze!)
    • Bullet lists aren't bad but use them wisely
  • It’s completely unrealistic in terms of requirements
    • They require a recent college graduate with 17 years of experience and offer a salary of $28k to start. Base jumping experience in the Congo is preferred, but not required. But if you have it, you’re going to get the job over the guy with more experience. Just because. You know?
  • It uses the term “willingness to perform other duties as requested” or other cliche terms like attention to detail

How can you rewrite those to make it more applicable or interesting?

Mistakes Made When Writing a Job Ad

The biggest mistake in writing a job ad is doing so before you create an actual analysis of the position and a job description. Without a thorough analysis of the role, you run the risk of not fully understanding what the expectations of the job are and what kind of candidate you want

Another mistake is not thinking of your ad as marketing, when in fact, your ad literally incorporates Marketing 101 principles and its sole purpose is to entice candidates to your position by selling the opportunity.

Things to Consider in Your Ad

Pros and Cons of Listing Salary
  • Advertising salary or ranges lets candidates self-select, saving you time and effort. If they wouldn’t accept the salary posted, they probably won’t apply. What might have been a wasted interview leaves another open slot instead.
  • Posting the salary range can help you avoid early inquiries about salary. Many companies prefer to avoid discussing salary in early interviews, so posting it gives candidates a general idea so that they will avoid questions until second-round interviews.
  • Also, listing salary helps you appear forthright and professional. This helps clarify expectations over a somewhat contentious issue before you even meet the candidate. For many employers, this is easier than introducing salary in person or at the end of the interview process.
  • Sometimes, even if you do post salary, good candidates may be discouraged by low amounts. If no salary is listed, a candidate may apply, come in for an interview, and feel that the job is such a good fit that they’d be willing to take less than they thought. This has challenges in itself, since we don’t ever want a candidate to take a step down in pay.
  • Another drawback is fear of candidate expectations. Some leaders feel that advertising even a wide salary range can make candidates expect too much. Once they have a number in their mind – usually at the high end of the scale — anything less can be a disappointment.
  • One thing to keep in mind is this- don’t advertise your willingness to pay more. A really great candidate may be able to negotiate a higher salary than what the company originally hoped to offer. However, advertising a high amount, even at the end of the scale, increases every candidate’s expectations, even those whose background and experience might not warrant it.

SEO in Your Job Ads

  • The first step to using SEO in your job ads is to research the keywords that candidates are using to find positions
  • Also do research on common synonyms that could also be searched for
  • If you call your sales role a “prosperity outreach manager” then the people searching for sales rep jobs aren’t going to find it
  • Make sure the language you’re using is common and consistent
  • Also consider including specific technologies or specialized skills and experiences related to the job. For example has experience with SAP, Salesforce CRM, or CPA license.
  • When you’re writing make sure you put those keywords into the headings of the job post
  • And make sure you repeat the keywords throughout the job ad so that it indicates to the search engines exactly what this job is about

Utilizing an Applicant Tracking System

Using an applicant tracking system helps you streamline your workflows among your team and anyone involved in the hiring and screening process so that you can move candidates through the process smoothly and intuitively. Hiring professionals are using a variety of channels to spread the word about their open positions, but 79% of them find it challenging to post to multiple job boards simultaneously.

With an applicant tracking system, you’re able to create custom messaging templates for each stage in the process and even integrate any pre-employment testing that you want to use when screening candidates both pre and post interview.

Applicant Tracking Systems also allow you to evaluate and rank your candidates based on fit for the job. In doing so, you’re allowed to collaborate with your team, keep the process organized and easily move candidates through the process so that they have a good experience.

Passive Recruiting Strategies

If you’re not actively hiring for a position but want to still collect candidates, you might consider passive recruiting strategies, such as posting job ads and allowing the resumes to roll in. Having an ATS is a great way to ensure that the resumes you collect are organized and you’re able to communicate and keep in touch with applicants even if you’re not actively hiring.

Alternative Recruiting Strategies

Some other strategies include outsourcing either the whole or part of your recruiting process to recruiting partners.

Some of the most common reasons companies seek external agencies, whether staffing or search partners, is because they don’t have the resources to execute a new search campaign with their own resources. They might be short on time, dedicated staff, or even funds to allocate to a full time person. In some cases, a company might believe they don’t have the right tools, skills, or process in place in order to properly execute a search campaign.

It may be a combination of these factors.

In this way, a search partner can find applicants, administer pre-employment assessments, conduct interviews, and even complete background checks with a high degree of focus and attention. A good recruiting company will work closely with you and treat your talent search as if it were their own. From beginning to end, they should pay attention to your needs while using their own expertise and will understand the latest research into effective hiring practices and use a variety of measurements to assess potential employees. They should then share this process with you, teaching you to take advantage of the latest insights and tools to create a better talent recruitment system.

Some of the most important requirements for the service you choose should be:

  • Do they understand the industry and roles in the industry?
  • Do they specialize in the industry you’re hiring in?
  • They use multiple methods to find and assess candidates
  • They emphasize that their clients’ needs take priority
  • They are willing to share their process and their results with you
  • They will help you improve your hiring process

A recruiter can only find you a candidate if they have a solid understanding of who they’re looking for, so creating a proper job profile will be critical in creating a successful partnership with a search company. The best search firms will help you with this, but why leave such a critical matter up to someone else who will never truly know your company culture. Taking the time to create a strong job analysis and description will immediately improve your chances of having a third party be successful on your behalf. Once you know that they’re aware of who you’re looking for, you need to then focus on communication and professional relationships

  • Maintain solid communication
  • Don’t ghost or ignore them
  • Respond quickly to all communications
  • And above all else treat them like you would want to be treated

The three main types of service you can use for an external recruitment campaign are Contract Talent Agencies, Staffing Companies, and Headhunters or Direct Placement Firms.

Contract Talent Agencies usually they don’t do as in-depth of a job for job placements, so oftentimes they are best for seasonal and part-time work or less vital roles within a company.

Staffing Companies are typically not a good choice for high-skilled or highly paid employees and instead work best for low skill or high volume hires when you need a quick turnaround time.

Headhunters and Direct Placement Search Firms are the best for more specialized or advanced positions in your company instead of low skilled positions. These searches could take 30-60 days to fill based on position, experience, and location.


Taking a look at your branding and reputation is also something you’ll want to do before beginning your campaign. This allows you to monitor for anything negative about your company an enact some damage control if needed. Also, if you don’t have a presence out there yet, this is a good opportunity to get started with that.

A study by CareerBuilder reveals that nearly 64% of candidates are doing their research on your company, your staff, the environment or culture, and any added benefits you might offer to employees before even applying for a job. Candidates are also looking for reviews and information that may shed light on other candidates’ or employees’ experiences, which may help them determine if your business is somewhere they might want to work.

Another report put together by Glassdoor (the Godfather of employer reviews) further details the importance of employer branding, and reveals that nearly 40% of women and 33% of men report that a company’s reputation or brand is very important, followed by 32% of women and 22% of men claiming that a company’s “social cause” is very important. Remember, great candidates don’t want to board a sinking ship. They are looking for a better opportunity that allows growth and promotion, a step-up, more pay, and more flexibility. What your reputation says about you, often directly from the mouths of previous and current employees, is one of the best ways for potentials to picture themselves with you or with your competitors.

Taking all of this into consideration, think about how you are doing in managing and actively working to boost your reputation. Let’s start with a google search. Go ahead, I’ll wait…what’s out there about you or your company? Did you find anything bad, any negative reviews from clients, candidates, or even employees? If you do find negative reviews, you’ll want to make sure to enable some damage control before running any job ads. The best way to deal with negative reviews or comments is to respectfully engage with and respond to them. At the very least, you’re showing the public that you care about how they perceive you and want to address any harmful publicity.

Aside from negative reviews, you’ll want to make sure that you’re easily found in search and on social media channels. Not being found at all is a pretty bad first impression on potential candidates too. The same CareerBuilder study reports that 37% of candidates will move on to another company and job opportunity if they can’t easily find information about your business when searching online. In this hard to find talent market (or any market really) and in this day and age, not being found in an online search is NO BUENO, and pretty impossible if you’re trying even a little bit.

Branding and Online Presence

Your employer brand and branding efforts are a big part of your recruitment process. Your brand communicates to candidates the type of business you are and should work to attract the types of people you want on the team and naturally turn away those who you don’t.

According to SHRM Staffing Research, there are several ways to best communicate your employer brand to prospective candidates. These include:

  • updating your company website
  • highlighting company initiatives
  • developing a tagline or slogan that people can associate with your company (think McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it.”)
  • communicating about the brand in a way that’s understandable to everyone
  • establishing or updating the company core values and mission statements
  • developing in-house communication strategies that develop cohesiveness such as meetings, recognition and rewards, and letters from the CEO

SHRM found that companies who participated in implementing these branding techniques experienced  an increase in hiring the right people, a greater number of qualified candidates, improved reputation, increased referrals, lower turnover, increasing number of diverse candidates, increased employee satisfaction, positions filled more quickly, and higher productivity among employees.

Okay, deep breath, ‘cause there’s more…

Clearly, branding is much more encompassing than simply having a presence online and a couple good reviews left by former employees. Your branding can make or break your success as a company in your recruitment efforts. In order to stay competitive, employers should have a branding strategy that serves both a marketing purpose to meet business objectives as well as one that satisfies candidates who are engaged in a job search and may be looking to find out more information about your company before applying.

Candidate Experience

The candidate experience is undoubtedly becoming more and more of a focus in recent years as unemployment hovers below 4% and quality talent becomes more difficult to find. Candidates want to know where they stand when they apply to a new opportunity, so it is in your best interest to make sure that your application process and communication with candidates is top notch if you want to stay in a potential candidate’s good graces.

Employer Career Pages

One way to improve branding for your company is to offer job or career pages on your website. Not only does this keep talent interested in your company and show them that you’re always on the hunt for qualified candidates, but it reflects your dedication to developing your employer brand by making available opportunities as they come up in your company.

The reality for many of us is that our companies and opportunities really may not be as competitive or attractive to candidates as we think they are or would like them to be. This is especially true when the labor market is tight due to low unemployment. In times where the candidate pool is low, employers have to be more creative, positioning themselves in a competitive space. This is when working to make your employer brand a top priority is extra important.

It's no secret that involving multiple people in the hiring process is beneficial. In fact, 94% of WorkConnect by SAP survey respondents say multiple people are involved in a typical hire. But 86% wish it were easier to collaborate with their peers. Further, an Indeed survey found that “the typical Fortune 500 company loses 9 out of 10 qualified applicants to these unwieldy processes.” Considering how difficult every qualified candidate is to attract and keep engaged, especially in a tight labor market, something as simple as making your careers page easier to navigate and apply through is a must for any business.

Application Process

We’ve already talked a lot about how the current employment market is heavily leaning in the favor of candidates with the state of unemployment, so it’s no surprise that we’re also placing importance on your application process and how that impacts how you’re seen to candidates, your branding, and overall ease of working with your company.

Your application process should be simple, intuitive, and painless, with no IT requests or live person chats necessary. One way to test this is to apply for your own job. Yes, you be the crash test dummy. Is the application easy to fill out? Are you asking for a resume and then also asking candidates to fill out the last 10 years of work history even though it’s basically the exact same information that’s on their resume?

Joke: How do you lose a candidate in 10 minutes?

Make them fill out an application for 20 minutes that repeats the exact same information found on their resumes that they spent 45 minutes creating in the first place.

Just don’t.

Good candidates will generally spend the time to give you what you’re asking for, but it should be reasonable AND it should match the position. In other words, you’re not going to ask someone applying for a Director of Ops position to fill out a goofy form on your website that asks where they went to high school and why they want to work here.

Remember, these people are top talent and many companies would be happy to have them, so don’t make the mistake of turning them off with something as simple as a cumbersome application process.

Go Mobile

I mean, come on people, it’s the 21st century and kids these days don’t even remember a world without mobile technology. After all, you’re targeting candidates, you want more candidates, bring me all the candidates, right? What are candidates doing with their time? They’re on their phones. All of them. In fact, a study shows that 60% of US college students think they might be addicted to their phones. Further, cell phone addiction appears to be the #1 addiction of the 21st century. Wow. The point here, aside from that incredibly depressing statistic, is that your application process must be mobile-friendly and easy to use.

After your next superstar swipes right, they just might want to apply for a job, so make it easy for them to do so.

Best Practices

It’s always a best practice to provide as many resources about your company as you have available to your candidates during their application process. You’ll want to attach a job description, your company mission or core values statements, links to your social media channels, a link to your website, and anything else that might be helpful to your candidate in learning about your company, culture, or history.

This purpose is two-fold. Offering as many resources to potential candidates as possible shows you have your stuff together. Secondly, it’s a great segway into your interview. You might break the ice with a question to your candidate asking what they know about you or what they’ve learned about your company. If they don’t know or have an answer, then you know they didn’t bother to do their research, even when you handed it to them on a silver email attachment platter. And they deserve a wedgie. More on this later...

Here’s something to think about. When you’re hiring and advertising your job to the world, you’re bound to get some resumes from candidates who don’t fit the role you’re hiring for. Can you fault the burger flipper for applying to a Pharmacist position with no experience, education background, or relevant training? Not really. Especially in a tight market or recession.

Occasionally, you will get a really good candidate application that doesn’t fit the job you’re hiring for but looks fantastic otherwise. It seems almost criminal to simply dismiss this person. So, as a best practice in recruiting and hiring, if you come across a candidate who isn’t a fit at the time you’re looking for someone specific, be sure to keep in touch with them.

According to a job seeker survey, CareerBuilder found that 54% of employers re-engage with candidates who were not offered the job the first-time around. It makes sense then, that when it comes time to revisit your own hiring needs and want to reach out to these people, chances are they’ll be much more receptive and welcoming to your inquiries since you’ve maintained a connection with them regularly.

Another pro tip when soliciting referrals or dealing with passive candidates- don’t suggest there are openings when there are none and don’t build up a reputation of “stealing” employees when you’re just starting out. Do pay attention to your connections’ skill sets – and their own connections as this could be a huge resource when it comes time to hire.

Ensuring that your application and screening process is intuitive and goes smoothly from step to step is key to keeping candidates engaged. If you are using an ATS and multiple people are involved in the process, be sure that everyone is on the same page with keeping the candidate experience a positive one.

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Your Candidate Assessment Strategy

Now that you’ve completed the job analysis, written a thorough job description, and created a job ad that you believe will speak to your candidates, you’re ready to start evaluating the talent that is applying to your opportunity. Your candidate assessment strategy is a multi-step process that encompasses all aspects of the screening and evaluation process.

There are several variations on how to go about the screening process and it’s up to you to decide which ones fit best where. You might follow different procedures for different positions depending on recruiting needs and resources.

When you have a position that nets several candidates, you’ll have an overwhelming amount of resumes to review. It’s not realistic that you literally sit there and spend hours upon hours reviewing resumes. Having a few methods for dealing with mass amounts of candidates is a good habit of getting into, so that you consistently move your new applicants through the process quickly and efficiently.

Those who pass your initial screening processes will move onto the next step, and those who don’t should get some sort of “thank you, but” letter, letting them know that you’ve decided to move on with other candidates. At every stage of the process, you should be updating candidates on their status, and notifying those who are moving on of the next steps.


You’ll evaluate all the resumes you receive and set the timing and scheduling for managing your new talent pipeline. Since you also have to run a business and manage your other employees, this is where you might consult with your HR department to have them help you do the heavy lifting in terms of the screening duties. Time-to-fill becomes the most important part of this process and even more so of an important issue in this market when considering the sub 4% national unemployment rate. As we’ve stressed, setting a timeline and having a plan is your first line of defence against a slow hiring process.

Since the cost of hiring surges the longer your jobs remain open and unfilled, it’s crucial that your initial evaluation of candidates happens shortly after receiving their application. This not only helps to move your own hiring process along, but helps with candidate engagement too, because the longer span of time between when a candidate applies to your job and the time they hear back from you, the greater the chances are of them dropping out of your process or getting picked up somewhere else entirely.

Here are the steps for an efficient screening process: 

  • review resumes
  • screening assessments
  • reaching out to interesting candidates
  • phone screen
  • in-person interview
  • in-depth assessments
  • in-depth interview
  • follow-up meetings
  • job shadowing
  • reference checks
  • offers and
  • onboarding

We outline the various methods for moving through these steps below.

Reviewing Resumes

The process of reviewing resumes can be cumbersome for some companies. You may be bombarded with so many that it seems impossible to get through them all. On the other end of that, you may not have enough to sort through to establish any kind of baseline or talent pool from which you want to draw. In any case, there are some key steps to reviewing a resume that you must consider:

  • Read them from the bottom up
  • How did this person arrive where they are today?
  • What was their professional journey and what did they learn along the way?
  • Identify growth in positions
  • Look for significant achievements or training
  • Direct relevant or parallel experience
  • Pay attention to dates - Longevity in roles is still important

When reviewing a resume, we are concerned with the idea of how the candidate arrived where they are today. Understanding their timeline of experience and achievement will help you better evaluate the candidate in relation to your candidate scorecard.


Think back way back to the beginning of your professional journey from the very first job you ever had. At each juncture, highlight in one sentence the following:

  1. What you achieved
  2. How that experience lead you to the next experience
  3. What motivated you to take on the next challenge
  4. Where you are today because of those decisions and as a result of those achievements

This is the structure that you want to elicit from your candidates both when reviewing their resumes and during interviews.

Screening and Assessment

There are many ways to assess candidates throughout the hiring process. In general, we want to make sure that we can objectively verify that they have the right blend of skills, experience, and interpersonal characteristics that will help them be successful in our job. When you haven’t met or spoken with the candidate yet, utilizing a combination of skills and behavioral testing is a method that helps screen the non-fit candidates out and frees you up for spending more of your time focused on engaging with those who are a fit.

Skill Tests as a Screening Technique

Skill testing is a quick and inexpensive way to screen candidates. You can find skill tests that measure attention to detail, sales knowledge, logic and critical thinking, computer skills and programs like Microsoft Excel and Outlook, data entry, math, and reading and writing.

Skills tests usually are made up of multiple choice questions that offer varying degrees of right and wrong answers. Other types, such as fill in the blank are left up to the hiring managers or individuals responsible for administering the assessment to grade and determine whether the candidate has the skills required.

Utilizing these tests before spending the time to interview someone is a great way to narrow down your candidate pool so you know you’re only meeting with people who are at the skill level you want them to be, and not spending time with those who aren’t. In other words, don't make bad hiring decisions when it's so easy to make good ones. Don't be the squirrel who waits until a car comes to cross the street.

Let’s say you’re hiring an administrative assistant to help with documents, filing, and handling other aspects of your office. It’s probably pretty important that the candidate who is selected for this position has impeccable attention to detail, right? Otherwise, all the i’s won’t be dotted and no t’s will be crossed. So, in order to not pull your hair out when you get 46903465 resumes 24 hours after posting your job ad, why not send your applicants a simple skill test that measures Attention to Detail? Or Filing? Or Data Entry? Then, you’ll only have to review the resumes of those candidates who actually passed your test, thereby freeing up like, 50 hours of your time to do other things, like, I dunno, run your business, get coffee, play solitaire. Whatever!

Simple skill tests, like Attention to Detail, Math, Writing, and Excel proficiency will help you take your hundreds of candidates down to a reasonable number that you can then reach out to if you decide the next step is interviewing.

Using skill tests is a good practice even if you don’t have a large volume of resumes to get through because they ensure that you only invest your time further screening or interviewing those candidates who truly have the required set of base skills that you’re looking for in this position.

In Depth Pre-Employment Tests

Another screening process method is through the use of more in-depth assessment tools, like competency, personality, work style, behavioral, Logic and IQ, and attitude measures. These tools are so affordable that you can administer them to each candidate whose resume you think looks to be a potential fit without having to dip into your piggy bank. Seriously, if you aren’t using assessment testing, #doyouevenhiringbestpractices, bro?

Ultimately, you should be making use of pre-employment assessment testing as both a screening tool before and after interviewing candidates. These tools should be a part of your greater screening and assessment process that also includes behavioral interviewing, reference, background, and credit checks, work samples, job shadowing and ride-alongs in order to vet your candidates fully.

Pre-employment assessments are able to identify candidate traits often exhibited in a working environment that assist hiring managers in making better hiring decisions (Carrigan 2007).

Types of Assessments

When it comes to hiring a new candidate, you have a lot of options. Assessment testing, for example, is one of those options. Testing candidates is a great way to assess your talent pool to further gather information about your candidates and make the most informed decision possible.

Choosing the Right Assessments for Your Company

Choosing the right pre-employment assessments for your business will ultimately depend on the type of roles you are looking to fill and what you are looking to measure in your potential candidates. Before selecting the pre-hire assessments you think you want to use, take an inventory. What are the most important skills, experiences, or aspects of the position? How are these things usually measured?

The following pre-employment assessments are the most common types of used for pre-employment screening: 

Cognitive & Leadership Work Ability Tests

These types of tests measure competence and skill level of certain attributes involving dealing with people, navigating roles in interpersonal relationships like communication, listening, understanding others, initiative, and coaching skills.

Ability assessments are great when you want to know more about whether your candidates have a specific level of competence to manage a job or task. You might seek out information about a candidate’s people or interpersonal skills, communication skills, and sales or management know-how.

Ability measures allow you to identify areas where your candidates excel and where there may be room for improvement, if you’re willing to train. These are also great for identifying skills in younger employees or recent graduates who have little to no work experience.

Analytical & Logical Reasoning Tests

These tests measure logic and critical thinking abilities such as problem solving, decision making, and outside of the box thinking.

Personality Test & Career Aptitude Test

These tests measure behavioral preferences and natural inclinations that relate to on-the-job satisfaction and performance, which affects employee retention, engagement, and overall success on the job.

Having the right personality fit for a position is crucial to long-term success and employee engagement. If someone enjoys the work they do, they’re more likely to stay in the job for an extended period and, although not always, are usually pretty good at whatever they’re doing. When you measure a candidate’s personality fit before hiring, you gain insight into where this person will fit within your company, how they might get along with others, and how they will contribute to your company’s overall culture.

It is essential that employees are motivated, honest, and adept at social interaction. However, employers often have little opportunity to really engage with potential employees in a short interview. Interviewees are often nervous and strive to present themselves as the person they believe the interviewer wishes them to be. In order to accurately assess whether or not a candidate has the right personality for your company, use pre-employment personality assessments from The Hire Talent.

Pre-employment personality assessments can accurately assess a prospective employee’s social skills. It is important for any business that employees are able to cooperate, exchange ideas, and work efficiently together. The ability to interact positively with clients and customers can be a difficult trait to discern prior to watching an employee work. Personality assessments can help eliminate this type of uncertainty before you make your decision.

A good personality assessment or behavioral test will examine this critical trait a candidate’s emotional intelligence, an important but often neglected aspect of their skillset. Emotional intelligence (EQ) includes the ability to read other people as well as to react appropriately to various work situations. People who have high levels of emotional intelligence are better able to work effectively on their own and especially with others. Empathy, dishonesty, and humility are all traits that affect an employee’s ability to work productively without social friction or inappropriate behavior.

Researchers have found that pre-hire personality assessments can predict a candidate’s future performance at work. Employees who have desirable personality traits, including strong levels of motivation, empathy, and self-confidence, have been shown to perform better in the workplace. These qualities are essential in employees who will be able to stay on task, present a positive attitude towards their jobs, and perform effectively. Pre-employment testing can accurately assess a candidate’s personality for these and other key factors of employee success.

Employees who are unhappy in their work not only work less effectively, they are also more likely to have conflicts with coworkers or leave their positions. This saves your company money and the inconvenience of mediating employee difficulties and repeating the hiring process.

A personality assessments that is designed to examine a candidate’s behavioral traits can be just the tool your business needs to find the right employee. Don’t overlook the key features that determine whether a prospective employee has the attributes needed to put their skills into action, enjoy their work, and contribute effectively to the growth of your business.

Emotional Competence, Conscientiousness & Emotional Intelligence Tests

These tests measure emotional intelligence and gauge a candidate’s level of sensitivity to how well they deal with and respond to others. Emotional intelligence determines one’s ability to effectively understand their emotions, as well as influence and understand others.

Emotional competency is one of those things that you can’t touch or see, but know it’s extremely important and related to success. Emotional competency suggests that your candidates have the motivation, drive, and focus for high-level achievement. Emotionally competent individuals operate efficiently, understand others, and then use that understanding to get things done. If they don’t see a way or solution, they make one. The rise to the occasion, whatever the occasion may be.

Is a candidate emotionally mature? Does he or she blame others for their mistakes? Questions like these are key to understanding which of your potential employees are likely to cause future difficulties or clash with their coworkers. Addressing discord between workers can not only cost your company time, but result in stress that negatively impacts everyone’s performance. Avoid these often long-lasting, uncomfortable, and costly incidences of discord by taking advantage pre-employment personality testing.

Measuring emotional competency in your pre-hire testing program is a great way to identify those individuals who will push the limits, think creatively, and ultimately help take your business to the next level.

Attitude, Honesty and Integrity Assessments

Measures attitude and integrity, like honesty, blame, honesty, dishonesty, and level of supportiveness or likelihood of being a team player.

Assessments that measure attitude traits and integrity can be a lifesaver when it comes to hiring. Of course no one is going to be a jerk in an interview, unless their goal is, oh I don’t know, to not get a job, and will most likely put their best foot forward. With everyone on their best behavior, how are you supposed to know who the real jerks are? Because they do exist😐

The person with the worst attitude is a wolf and the person with the best attitude is a good-natured person. The most basic description of attitude has to do with a willingness to support the boss and the team. The willing have good attitudes; the unwilling are wolves. Or, the good attitude types have the long-term benefits of the company at heart, and the wolves have their personal short-term greed as their goal. The unselfish and the selfish.

Have you ever tried to get another employee to do something for you when it was part of her job (yes, in her job description)? Some did it willingly (good attitude) and some would conveniently forget or even protest doing it (bad attitude). We all know what it feels like to run into the unwillingness wall.

We understand this is not a pleasant subject for many people. We like to think of everyone as good. The reality is that some really don’t care what they put us through. In spite of their meanness, we personally feel they should be forgiven and helped—but not hired.

Sure, skills and experience are important too, but consider this: your top performing salesperson Craig, who crushes his monthly goals and is responsible for 35% of your new business, is an absolute nightmare to deal with at times. Because he’s so talented at what he does, he thinks he knows better. He follows his own objectives more so than what’s asked of him that you’ve kinda stopped asking. After all, he’s bringing in so much revenue, right? Maybe he knows what he’s doing.

Although he mostly gets along with the other associates, he’s also pretty critical of their performance and brags about carrying the team. He’s begun to wrangle some of your other associates into following his questionable techniques to make more sales, and you’re concerned that they might be swayed by the Craig bandwagon.

Craig’s ways are impacting not only your ability to manage him as your employee, but are having a rippling effect throughout the rest of the organization. Although he’s performing so well and it would dent your business performance significantly to let him go, he’s becoming exponentially difficult to manage and you don’t know how much longer you can put up with his behavior. What do you do?

Attitude > Skills & Experience

Trust is a big deal. In fact, we are less disappointed to know that someone lied to us than we are in the fact that now we can no longer trust them. Think about that. Dishonesty and the "little white lie" are a part of life. People are human, and by default imperfect. We will make mistakes and perhaps even bad choices from time to time. The challenge with dishonesty is the personal meaning the lie has and how it impacts our relationship with the person who was dishonest with us.

Employees who are dishonest will undermine your values by choosing to put themselves in a situation at work and with you, where they can’t be trusted. This is difficult to recover from. People lie for a variety of reasons; because they want to save face, look better about something, or to impress. When they report they made all 30 calls to their customers, you might always wonder if they really made all 30 calls, or maybe they didn't call at any case, do you want to waste time always wondering about your employees' trustworthiness?

No, 'cause you've got businesses to run!


Like Craig, unsupportiveness shows up in employees who would rather follow their own agenda, thinking they know it all or know better, and aren’t receptive to feedback and direction. Unsupportive employees will fight you at every turn and may outright go against your rules or expectations of them.

This doesn’t mean that you should be a micromanager, telling your employees what to do and how to do it down to the T, because no one wants to work under those conditions. It does mean, however, that you give your employees autonomy. But even that might not be enough with an unsupportive employee. Employees who are high in unsupportiveness can easily poison the well by infecting other employees and encouraging their own rebellion.


Blame is a doozy of an attitude trait because it permeates everything in your working environment. When you have an employee who is high in blame on your team, this person constantly dodges responsibility for their own actions, subjecting you and the rest of your team to have to take over the extra workload or cover for him.

It's never his fault for being late, because there was traffic. He couldn't finish his presentation materials because he had a question about them and you weren't available to answer it. No matter what, it's always someone or something else, and never the person himself who could have controlled any of the circumstances in which he finds himself.

Assessments that measure emotional intelligence and emotional competency are critical to identifying those candidates who lack a sense of personal responsibility. Not sure how to spot one of these folks in an interview? Ask them about luck. Ask them how they think people achieve high degrees of success in their careers. Is it through hard work, tenacity, failing and trying again, or luck, nepotism, and right place, right time? There might be a little bit of each of these in most success stories, but the blamers will surely tell you which accounts for the majority of other people’s success.


Employees who are critical are uncomfortable to deal with. They struggle to see the good in people or situations and may be impatient to the faults and shortcomings of others.

A high critical trait reflects on one’s expectations. Oftentimes the highly critical person's expectations are unrealistic or impractical standards that would be difficult for anyone to achieve.

On the other hand, employees with an overly critical boss might feel like they can't ever accomplish anything worthy of praise or that whatever they do is never enough.

Critical employees might still operate at a high level and be pretty productive, but they can sure be a drag on the culture of your team.


Similar to critical employees, those who are negative are a bummer. Since the glass is always half empty, they might miss opportunities or fail to see solutions to problems since the solution is always overshadowed by the problem itself. Sunny day? They think it's too hot. Boss treats everyone to lunch? They're not even that hungry.

So, what's a responsible and well-meaning employer to do? Invest in some pre-hire employment tests. All of the attitude traits discussed above are easily distinguishable through the use of pre-employment assessment tests that work to uncover these traits that aren’t easily picked up in an interview.

Sales Abilities Tests

Sales skills and sales aptitude tests measure the likelihood that someone is a fit for a sales role based on both skills and knowledge of sales technique as well as personality fit for the role by measuring traits like assertiveness, confidence, tenacity, motivation, and work ethic.

Other Types of Screening Techniques

You might want to check on your candidate’s background, criminal record, or credit, especially if they will be responsible for financial reports or sensitive company information. Background checks, driving records, and drug testing is also a focus for many employers where employees are handling equipment, driving a company car, or dealing with sensitive client/customer/patient health information.

Open House

An open house is a similar situation to a group interview in the sense that everyone interested in the job all meets at the same time. You might invite any interested applicants to your business for an open house, or group meeting where you might give a tour, discuss the opportunities your business has to offer, and generate interest in a hands-on style. Think of an open house like a living job advertisement. Your candidates and potentials will have the chance to see things in action, they’ll meet with other staff, and get a feel for what the day-to-day experience might be like.

Open houses are less formal than a traditional job interview, but offer the chance to get to know your candidates in a less stuffy type of meeting, allowing them and you to feel more comfortable and truly learn about each other.

In-Depth Screening

The in-depth screening process is where your ATS will come in super handy again. Most ATS’s have the functionality that allows you to email candidates directly from the system where you’re reviewing their resumes. You can set up templates and workflows so that it eventually becomes somewhat of an automated process that you can do easily and not spend a ton of time each time you want to interview someone. You can send out bulk emails to candidates letting them know you’re interested in moving on to the next step.

There are so many tools to help improve productivity nowadays it’s not even funny. One of these tools is a calendar scheduling app that allows you to essentially set a schedule that you’re available and then you can provide that link to the calendar in your email template to your candidates and take a hands-off approach, allowing them to self-schedule. Your only job is in making sure that your schedule is freed up during the times you specify so you can be available for the interview.


When screening candidates, you have many options. You can evaluate their work experience and qualifications with short screening or more in-depth interviews, or both. Short screening interviews are really just mini versions of the longer more in depth interviews. There are really just a handful of techniques and goals when interviewing candidates:

  1. We want to get references from past supervisors because the process of collecting the reference tells us a lot about the candidate past performance and behaviors
  2. We need to understand the magnitude of the impact the candidate made in their last role. The most significant achievement questions. Or the process of understanding how performance was evaluated in the role and how they performed in relation to the expectations and their peers tells us a ton about their ability to achieve results
  3. We need to master the art of probing questions. This takes awareness, tact and lots of practice. It’s critical for understanding the truth or the reality of the candidates past experiences since they will be shared from the candidates perspective how do you uncover the perspective of those they interacted with. Probing, clarifying and not making conclusions based on assumption or incomplete information is critical
  4. Understanding reasons for leaving roles clearly really helps us understand what is motivating the candidate are crucial for making sure the job is in alignment with the candidates personal and career goals. People leave jobs because they are not getting what they want from the job, that could be money, work life balance, challenges, growth, relationships or purpose (darn millennials!).
  5. Reasons for leaving also helps us understand past performance often times if you probe enough you will discover the candidate was let go, laid off or mutually quit (the nice way of letting someone go) which is likely an indication of either poor execution or behavioral problems. Often that will be reflected in the candidates negativity towards their past situation
  6. Behavioural based questions are a great way to get into specific details about key required skills, and experiences without asking leading questions these can be used at any phase of the process typically more in the in depth interviews.
  7. Deal Breakers are best addressed head on during the first interview to save everyone time in the hiring process. If the candidate doesn’t meet a mandatory basic requirement then why take the interview process to the finish line just to find out they won’t be a fit.

All we’re trying to do is understand:

  1. What motivates the candidate?
  2. Do they have a history of being a strong achiever?
  3. Do they match the key qualities required for success on the job as defined by the scorecard?

And we are trying to give the candidate the opportunity to get to know us so they feel like they can get an idea about whether we’re the type of company they can see themselves working with for a long time to come.

Phone Screens

Phone interviews are another great way to screen out handfuls of candidates. If you used skill tests to first screen out the masses, and have then gone through and reviewed the resumes of those who passed your tests, you’ll want to get them on the phone for a brief career review and initial consultation.

You can utilize your handy auto-calendar scheduling app to make the scheduling of these even easier, without taking your own time corresponding with candidates on scheduling fits. Since you have already screened these candidates at least once with skill tests, you know that whomever fills up your calendar is a good fit so far and has the necessary base skills you’re looking for.

An initial phone screen will be very similar to an in-depth phone screen or traditional behavioral interview, except a bit shorter. You might only review the candidate’s last position or two in order to get a sense of them and if they are someone you ultimately want to move forward with.

Group Interviews

You might want to consider group interviews in order to meet with a large pool of candidates and maximize your time. Setting aside a block of time with your team will allow you to interview several potential fits for your position without investing a ton of time doing it. You can use this method as a screening method and invite favorable candidates back for further in-depth and one-on-one interviews later in the process.

Group interviews provide unique insight that might not be gathered from a one-on-one interview or phone screen, in that you’ll learn about your candidate’s interpersonal skills, how well they interact with others, communication, initiative or assertiveness to speak up first and the like.

Panel Interviews

Conducting a panel interview the right way can yield great results. When it’s a team effort, each person gains a different insight and perspective that can be helpful in making a final decision on a candidate.

Panel interviews offer great benefits, such as:

  • You have more reason to stay on track. As long as you have a basic plan to avoid confusion, the need to accommodate other interviewers – and perform well in front of them – can help keep you on task and focused.
  • Avoid letting personal feelings affect judgment. Getting feedback from multiple people who also participated in the interview is helpful. It can help you look past your less objective judgments.
  • Multiple perspectives. Panels mean that others are hearing the same responses – but in their own way. Others may catch something you didn’t, or perhaps better understand some technical questions.
  • Others can learn for you. You can show other panelists what you have learned from your research into hiring and questioning techniques. Equally, you may find that you can learn from the others. This will improve overall hiring efficacy.

However, some avoid panel interviews in thinking they are less effective than one-on-one interviews, they lead to disagreement and tension, or they think it’s not worth the time or have trouble getting everyone to make time.

One of the easiest ways to make a panel interview go wrong is to go in without a plan. Panel interview difficulties often come from the interviewers’ dynamics rather than issues related to the candidate.

Avoid personal conflicts and confusion by discussing the following details in advance:

  1. Get an idea of who asks what, and when. As you interview, candidate’s responses will inspire new questions. For your main questions, however, there is no reason you can’t make a general plan with your fellow interviewers. Define your roles. Even consider distributing a list of questions if you have reason to worry.
  2. Understand the job and agree on what you’re looking for. You should have a good understanding of your priorities. Discuss the key requirements of the job so everyone understands what to listen for and expand upon. This is especially important if some interviewers are unfamiliar with the role or department in question.
  3. Agree on etiquette. Surprisingly enough, simple courtesy and timing issues cause many panel interviews to go poorly. Basics like not interrupting each other (or the candidate), arriving on time, and making smooth introductions are important. They improve the chance of getting good information and presenting a professional image.
  4. Decide who will answer candidate’s questions. It may be obvious who will answer a particular question. For others, everyone may feel they have a right to respond. If you want to answer or be in charge of directing untargeted questions, make it clear before the interview.

Panel interviews can offer more accurate assessments and help you avoid interview pitfalls. Create a plan, discuss the job thoroughly with panelists, and avoid simple mistakes that might result in confusion. With these steps, you can make the most of panel interviews.

In-Depth Interviews

After you’ve evaluated a candidate’s resume and screened them for the basic skills you’re looking for, it’s time to schedule a more in-depth interview. This is where you get into the details of each of their positions and run through a complete work history.

Your in-depth interview should be structured and intentional, with you leading the conversation most of the time. Your objective is to identify the most significant achievement in your candidate’s recent positions, and possibly even in their career. This “most significant achievement” question was made famous by Lou Adler, the king of performance-based hiring and author of “Hire With Your Head,” and its intention is to glean insight into your candidate’s emotional intelligence and assessment of self. Asking a candidate what they believe their most significant achievement is tells you a lot about their values as well. You’ll identify, from their perspective, what they’re most proud of and how this was accomplished. This tells you a bit about their problem-solving skills as well.

Other aspects of the in-depth interview include what Bradford D. Smart calls the “TORC Technique,” or threat of a reference check. In your interview as you move through learning about your candidate’s last few relevant positions, you’ll want to ask them if they would be able to provide a reference from a previous supervisor, assuming they were offered a position with your company. If they say anything but “yes, absolutely!” run to the hills (any Iron Maiden fans here? Anyone? Bueller? No? Okay). You’ll always want to include the disclaimer “if we offered you this position, pending acceptance, would you be able to get a reference from so and so?” in your request. This eliminates any question in their mind that you’re planning to call their supervisor Linda, who doesn’t know they’re leaving, and blow their cover before they’re even offered a job.

So, ease their mind, save them the anxiety attack, and prop up your request with a disclaimer. Love the reference debate? Don’t worry, there’s more on that later. We beat that point to oblivion too.

You know we created a blueprint for you to use in screening your candidates. You can use this  Power Interview Guide for brief or in-depth, on the phone or in-person interviews. The first goal  of your interview is to introduce yourself and set the pace for the duration of the interview.

Reference Checking

Reference checking is one of the most important parts of the hiring process because it is where you validate everything you’ve learned about your candidate up to this point. Everything you’ve learned about them from their resume, discussed in their phone screen and observed on their pre-employment testing will either be validated or not with a reference check from their previous supervisor.

So where do you start with reference-checking?

We mean, like, for real check references. Not talking about those references that the candidate lists at the bottom of their resume. And I don’t want to necessarily know what the candidate’s BFF Charles thinks about him, either. Unless, the references at the bottom of the resume are from a previous, direct supervisor and Charles is a BFF because the candidate-in-question had such a great work ethic and doubled company profitability in like, 5 minutes, those types of references aren’t considered all that relevant.

Think about it: wouldn’t it be great if we could check references before entering into a romantic relationship? Seriously, how much time and tears and pints of ice cream could have been saved had we just sat down to lunch with one of our exes previous girlfriends or wives? Petition to create an ex-boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife referral or reference app! Although THAT topic is a subject for another time, there is a key point here that we want to emphasize.

We check reviews on product and service sites like Amazon and Yelp, right? Why shouldn’t the same idea apply for reference checking candidates? Employers want to know what they’re “getting into” with a candidate, how well they work, and if there is a return policy (also known as “at-will” employment), and rightly so. Reference checks are like customer reviews. Not everyone has something nice to say, but if the candidate did a great job and is considered a pretty decent person, the reference will likely be a positive one. We’ve discussed before that candidates are checking your references before they even apply most times, on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, so it’s only logical that you check theirs as well.

Work Samples and Job Shadowing

Other ways to evaluate candidates more in-depth is through the use of work samples, in-house job shadowing, ride alongs, and field work. Allowing candidates to experience “a day in the life” is a great way for you to imagine how they might fit into the work environment and how they will interact with their colleagues and clients.

Shadowing and work samples also allow candidates the opportunity to give the position a test run to determine if it’s something they really enjoy and can see themselves doing before anyone actually commits to anything.

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Onboarding Talent

The Wynhurst Group cites that new employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58%-70% more likely to be with the same organization after three years than those employees who haven’t. To set yourself and your business up for success when it comes to getting your candidate to hit the ground running, it is a best practice to put yourself in their shoes.

Some questions to ask yourself when drawing up an onboarding plan for candidates:

  • What happens on day one?
  • What do they need to know by week 1, 2, 4, 12, etc.?
  • How will you know if they are on the right track?
  • Is it measured?
  • Who will evaluate the candidate progress and how often will feedback be given to the candidate?

If it’s not going to work out, it’s better for everyone to figure that out sooner rather than later and to make that decision based on objective facts rather than a gut feeling. People get sued over gut feelings, candidates will thank you for making it objective and setting them free.

Creating a SMART training and onboarding plan is critical. Those with a strong program see a “66% higher rate of successful assimilation of new hires into company culture, 62% had higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54% reported higher employee engagement.”

It is also a SMART thing to do. Imagine your first day on the job: there is no working computer you can’t access any of the software tools required to do your job, and no one to show you where the bathroom would be lost! If your priorities were not set up clearly, you would struggle to decide which goals to work towards first and maybe make the wrong decision, resulting in days, weeks or maybe months of not being able to make a significant impact on your company’s mission.

Creating an effective training and onboarding plan is a simple extension of our SMART Job Description. For each of our key performance goals, work backwards to determine what this person needs to know, learn, or demonstrate in the early days on the job. Generally, a strong training plan has SMART goals set for week 1, month 1, month 3, month 6, and month 12. For less complicated jobs this could be less, and for more complex or advanced jobs, this could be as long as 5 years.

Remember to keep the plan simple and focused on the key KPI’s for the role. The training and tasks associated should all be relevant to achieving those weekly, monthly, and annual goals.

This exercise is great for identifying any expectations that might be unreasonable, if you look at your list of to do’s and think about how long it will take to achieve each you might find some of the expectations need to be spread out over longer periods of time. Doing this correctly is a win, win as new team members who feel the job expectations are unreasonable quit at very high rates, and bosses who feel their new team members are not catching up fast enough form strong biases that often strain the working relationship to a breaking point.

Great training and onboarding plans are all too often forgotten after the first few weeks on the job. Making sure you sit down with your new team members regularly at each time bound milestone to assess progress and provide feedback is what makes a plan highly effective. A great trick is to make the new team member accountable for setting the appointment to review their progress.

Here is an example of our SMART training plan for an Account Manager:

Weekly Metrics:

By week 1, new employees should get acclimated with software based tools we use to get our job done.

Software Training:

  • Hubspot – Complete level 1-3 open boarding courses pass all knowledge verification quizzes
  • Discover Org – Complete onboarding training module provided by vendor and knowledge verification quiz
  • Google Drive and Docs – Complete Google’s tutorial on how to use and navigate Google for work

Begin Product Training:

  1. Read the entire Assessment Manual and demonstrate understanding by writing a summary of each section, each test we offer and each trait we measure.
  2. Sit in 5 new prospective client discovery calls
  3. Shadow 5 candidate results review with clients
  4. Take our short skill tests to acclimate yourself with the products available
  5. Read and report back on what has been learned

Cultural Assimilation:

  1. Go to lunch with at least two team members
  2. Find the water cooler * pop quiz

By week 4, new employees should be able to demonstrate strong Level 1 product understanding by:

  • Shadowing 15 client discover calls and 15 candidate results reviews
  • Conducting 10 mock discovery calls with Sr. Account Managers
  • Conduct 10+ client discover calls with Sr. Team members
  • Conduct 5 mock candidate results reviews
  • Conduct 5 client candidate results reviews

By week 12, the employee should be able to demonstrate product level 2 mastery by conducting independently and with Sr. Staff:

  • 80 client discovery calls
  • 40 client results reviews
  • Sign up 12 new clients

By week 26, the employee should be able to demonstrate:

  • A 17% client close rate at a minimum average new client value of $1,500 annually
  • Have 15 additional client candidate results review sessions with Sr. Staff members

By week 52, the employee should demonstrate a 20%+ close ratio on all leads, representing mastery of all sales tools and product knowledge and:

  • Write 1 white paper on pre-hire testing topic
  • Begin training new team members

Performance Evaluations

Employees should be evaluated once their probationary period is over and again each year following. Hiring managers should review with their employees the different sections that are being reviewed so the employee feels like they know where they stand and what areas they might be able to improve on. Ideally, managers will review all sections of the performance evaluation form with employees and discuss any points that need review or improvement, while also highlighting what is working and going well.

The following is a sample employee evaluation form:

Culture, Retention and Engagement

In order to keep candidates engaged, several factors come into play. Most can be tied back to the company’s culture and core values. Talented and motivated employees are the bedrock of any successful business; however, finding and, more importantly, retaining talented people has become harder than ever. There are a few reasons that can be attributed to this fact but a lack of talent is not one of them. In fact, the main reason behind it is the fact that talent is valued more than ever, and people who possess it are aware of this. With so much demand, companies are constantly raising their standards in order to make talented people stay, making things quite competitive and difficult. The most important yet often overlooked thing that actually attracts talented people to a certain company is the company culture within which a company operates.

Simply put, company culture represents the overall expectations, values and beliefs the company stands for and the way it interacts with both its staff, customers and the whole community within which it operates. While this may sound quite abstract and somewhat hard to do anything about, in reality, there are a few important things that can very much help you shape your company's culture in a way which will make people, and more importantly, talented people want to work for you.

Meaningful Work

Employees need to feel like they have a sense of belonging and duty to the company. They need to feel like the work they do makes a difference and like their contributions matter in the grand scheme of things. Most importantly, you’ll want to assess for this during the screening process. The first step lies in identifying your candidate’s core values and determining if they match your own. Are they in alignment? Beyond this, you’ll want to make sure that your opportunity is one that will continue to challenge the candidate and offer them the chance to continue growing their career.

Providing meaning to your employees is another must in order to create an environment in which people are comfortable and want to work in. This is closely linked with your overall company culture, as the meaning each of your employees has will be directly derived from it. This is why firstly having clearly defined visions, goals and beliefs within your company is something that you should devote a substantial amount of time to.

However, people in the modern workplace require more than just a collective meaning within a company in order to be satisfied. As society constantly pressures the individual into an upwards social climb, what talented people are looking for, now more than ever, is the assurance that they will be able to grow, learn and most importantly progress within your company. No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job, especially if you are aware of the potential you possess. Because of this, you need to show to your employees that they have a future within your company, and that their hard work and the effort put in will be worth their time.

Flexible Schedules

Perks and benefits also contribute to employee engagement and retention. Flexible work schedules are becoming more and more attractive to employees and giving your employees the flexibility to adapt their work around themselves has shown to not only increase their productivity but also their overall happiness and satisfaction with the company they work for, substantially decreasing the odds that they will leave their current job.

Modern Workspaces

Modern workspaces are also becoming a perk that candidates want. Even though at first it may seem like creating a modern, high-end work environment is something that only big companies can afford, there are a lot of alternatives that can help you in achieving this. For example, you can look into companies offering a serviced office in Sydney, San Francisco, London or other major cities which won’t only give you all of the previously mentioned benefits, but also give you the benefit of a great location that will furthermore improve the desirability of your company in the eyes of talented employees.

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Tying it All Together

Following a FACT-Based hiring system will not only allow you to attract the types of candidates you’re looking to hire in a tight labor market, it will ensure that your process for doing so is structured, sound, systematic, and makes the most effective use of yours and your candidate’s time.