A five-point checklist on hiring

A five-point checklist on hiring

A five-point checklist on hiring

A lot of books have been written about hiring, perhaps some of our commenters will recommend their favourites, and it can be a complicated and lengthy discussion. But good hiring practices are worth the time and effort.

Out of 10 people looking for a job, three are likely to be bad hires, three will be mediocre, and three might be great somewhere but won’t fit well with your company. That leaves one. The question is, which one? Here’s a five-point checklist that will help you increase the odds of finding the right people.

The job description

Think carefully about the listing. What are the job’s responsibilities? What skill set is required? It also pays to think about what advantages your company has to offer that would make this job appealing. Remember, you have options, and so do the best candidates.


I give personality tests to people in sales and management. I find them insightful and valuable. I also do drug screening. Given the obvious concerns about safety, performance and lawsuits, I would rather not hire anyone using drugs. If you don’t do testing and it hasn’t been a problem, remember that it only has to happen once. If you don’t believe in drug testing, that is your business.

The interview

First, think about the person doing the interviewing for you. It is part art and part science. Some people are much better at it. Some people are downright dangerous. Everyone needs some basic training on the legalities. You need to develop your own list of revealing questions that will give you an idea of how the person thinks and acts.

Checking references

If someone cannot come up with a few people they can use as references, be careful. Even applicants coming from companies that will not give references should be able to offer someone who can be called at home. (I find it troubling that many companies refuse to give references even to those who have done a good job.) Those references might need the same assistance someday.

I have found that my best hires get glowing references that do not require cat-and-mouse questioning. Also, pay attention to those long silences and carefully chosen words; they are warning signs. I once had a reference say that he did not want to elaborate on something. I shared my concern with the applicant, and she blurted out, “I am difficult to work with!”

Well, who’s not looking for that? I did not hire her, but I am sure someone else did. Probably many people, those who don’t check references.

The offer

Spell it out. Hours, pay, vacation, reviews, expectations. The good, the bad and the ugly. There is no upside to new employees’ being surprised when they start. While there is certainly an element of luck, a good hiring process can and should improve the odds of hiring great people.

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