Hiring Right – Fine Tuning Your Recruiting Efforts to Avoid Mis-Hires

July 14, 2015 by

Recruiting and HiringThe report card on hiring in North America is pretty poor and indicates that too many organizations are simply filling positions with “bodies,” as opposed to applying meticulous screening to avoid hiring the wrong people in the first place. As revealed in my New York Times Best Seller, Building a Magnetic Culture, 59% of all new hires are gone before the one-year tenure mark. As a result, these organizations encounter the significant costs of re-recruiting and re-hiring.

All best-in-class organizations (defined as top 10% on employee engagement) have detailed processes for hiring and vetting candidates that applied detailed scrutiny. Simply put, they recognized that if they were going to spend the time, money, and energy to build a magnetic culture, they should only let magnetic and highly engaged people through their doors. I’ll now share the five “Hiring Right” best practices of these best-in-class organizations to help you avoid the damaging and costly outcome of hiring the wrong people.

1. Adopt a new attitude of applying more scrutiny to the hiring process, and commit to sticking to it. For many organizations, this is an enormous and badly needed philosophical shift in thinking. As inferred above, this is the most important step to hiring right.

2. Set up a Non-negotiable list. Pre-determine those behaviors and traits that would categorically eliminate a candidate for consideration if seen during the interview process. For example, when developing our list at the last company I ran, we were careful to add the traits of the employees that did not work out in the past. (e.g., could not look the interviewer in the eye, did not know what our company did or what the interviewer’s job was, fielding or sending a text during a job interview, etc.) For a jump-start on creating your own Non-negotiable List, please see my related blog.

3. Hire for Attitude, not for Aptitude. Recognize that you can always train for technical skills, while you cannot easily “teach” engagement or attitude. Try asking questions that gauge candidates’ attitudes toward your organizational mission, values, and culture. Also look for signs in the candidate such as passion, high energy level, and a natural curiosity to know or acquire new knowledge.

4. Use the right Behavioral Interview questions to screen out candidates who have a low propensity for becoming engaged, rock star performers. Look for signs in the candidates’ history or on their resume that they have been engaged in the past or have the propensity to be engaged going forward. Ask candidates for their own definition of employee engagement and for specific examples of their previous job engagement.

As importantly, ask candidates for instances of when they had been disengaged in their jobs in the past, and what they did about it. People who are likely to become engaged in jobs are much more likely to come up with “workarounds” and solutions to disengaging situations.

5. Adopt a more up-to-date, innovative, and effective reference check process. You may be astounded to learn that many organizations still use an old, antiquated, and broken system of reference checks. They check the references provided by candidates, which often only tell one side of the performance story. After hiring employees, they get the disappointing discovery that they hired the wrong people, with the actual job performance in direct contradiction with the rosy information heard from the reference checks.

What goes wrong for these companies? Most notably, they don’t use technology to gain added confidential access to more meaningful reference check information. Such technology can reveal references not directly provided by the candidate, and thereby making the information more confidential and objective. Pioneered by SkillSurvey in 2001, this full “360 View” of job candidates marries Predictive Data, Objective Data, and Deeper Data, which all leads to a more enlightened and effective hiring decision.

Without a doubt, if you apply the five “Hiring Right” Best Practices listed above, you will be well on your way to curbing new-hire turnover, gaining higher employee engagement, and nurturing a magnetic culture that yields countless meaningful business outcomes.


Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Email: kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com