3 Common Hiring Woes and Solutions

In a competitive business landscape where most companies have access to the same information, software, tools, and customers, the business who can hire the best people will most likely come out on top.

But hiring consistent “A-Players” is challenging, due to several common mistakes companies can make during their hiring process. This article identifies some of those mistakes and offers some solutions that lead to better quality hires.

Woe #1: Hiring Too Quickly

If you’ve been in business for long enough, you know this feeling. Everything is going great, the team is firing on all cylinders, and then all of a sudden a team member puts in a resignation.

You quickly post a position on several job boards and review some resumes, but the clock is ticking. Your existing team falls farther behind and is starting to get overwhelmed. And you feel the pressure to make a hire, any hire, who then ends up not being an A-player.


Build a “bench”

Keep a running list of A Players in your network. These are people who aren’t looking for jobs, but they would be one of your first calls if an opening came up.

Offer a Referral Fee

A-Players like to recommend other A-Players. If you can incentivize your current team to recommend quality candidates in their networks, it widens your applicant pool and also provides one more data point during the hiring process since someone already knows the candidate.

Develop an internship program

A good internship program can turn into a great pipeline for future full-time hires. The internship allows you to witness how candidates perform in a workplace setting without the long-term time or financial commitment of a full-time hire.

If they have a good experience with your company, interns can be great brand ambassadors back at their schools and refer future applicants.

Career development professionals at local universities are passionate about helping students find internships and jobs in fields that suit them, and they are easy to get in touch with. Posting jobs to multiple universities is as easy as ever through a free tool called Handshake, and almost all universities host career fairs and other events to get in front of candidates.

Interview even if the timing isn’t right

If you have a certain role you frequently hire for (analyst, sales rep, account manager, etc.), continue interviewing candidates even if the timing may not quite be right. This allows you to continue meeting potential hires and building your bench.

Make sure to be transparent with the candidate before an interview in this situation. For example, you can say: “We received your application and would love to schedule an interview. However, I wanted to be upfront about the fact that we’re not hiring for this position today but are always looking for good candidates for when we’re ready to make this hire.”


Woe #2: Vague Job Responsibilities

The company is growing and the existing team is starting to become stretched, so you know it’s about time to make a hire. But how do you know what hire you need to make?

For example, you have a small company where 4 or 5 different people all pitch in to manage the day-to-day duties of the office – answering phones, ordering supplies, scheduling meetings, etc. and so you determine you need a full-time Office Manager. Will there be enough work to do for that new position to justify the hire? What will the existing team members do with some of their freed-up time?


Build a Job Scorecard

A Job Scorecard is “a list of measurable accountabilities, core values, and behavioral competencies that describe a person who will perform at a high level in the role (Topgrading.com).” Notice how this is distinctly different from a “Job Description” in 2 main ways:

  • A Job Description lays out tasks without being specific, whereas a Job Scorecard is a list of desired outcomes for the position (Ex. ‘Build relationships with clients’ vs. ‘Will meet face-to-face with clients 50 times per quarter’ or ‘Will complete 25 product demos per month’)
  • A typical Job Description speaks to the ‘what’ of the job but not the ‘who’. By including a set of Core Values and Behavioral Competencies, you know the type of person you are looking for in addition to being able to do the job


Woe #3: Insufficient Candidate Information

Resumes can easily be embellished or all start to look the same. Candidates appear their best for interviews but then don’t perform in the job. You’re unable to verify via reference checks what all the candidate said during interviews.


Rely on a tailored job application instead of looking at resumes

While resumes can be useful to assess a candidate, it’s very tough to make a good decision on a candidate based on a resume only, and it’s hard to assess ‘culture fit’ by looking at a resume.

Tailor an application to get a clearer picture of the candidate. For example, you could use knock-out questions for deal-breakers (Ex. Bachelor’s Degree, minimum GPA, or whatever else is absolutely essential in a candidate). You could also ask questions that help determine if the candidate would fit in well with your culture. For example, if you value people who are resilient, you could ask a question regarding a time when the candidate overcame a difficult situation.

Have candidates arrange their own reference checks

This recommendation is part of the Topgrading philosophy, known as the “Topgrading Truth Motivator”. From the beginning of the interview process, make sure candidates know that before any offers are extended, they will be personally arranging reference checks with their former managers.

During the interview process, make sure you ask candidates how they think their former managers would rate them on a 1-5 scale. If a candidate says “5” but the reference actually ends up saying “2”, that raises a red flag. And if the candidate knows he/she will be arranging the reference check, it holds the candidate accountable to be honest.

The Kirkland Company

At The Kirkland Company, we utilize a hiring methodology called Topgrading, which allows us to hire A Players consistently. If you are interested in learning more, click here.