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Avoid Hiring the Evil Twin: Six Strategies to Hire Right the First Time

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When Rob extended the offer to Kyle, he was sure he had hired the best candidate for the position. Rob had checked all of Kyle's references and previous employment records, and based on this information along with his interviewing skills, Rob knew Kyle had the skills necessary to do the job. After all, Kyle had nearly four years of experience with another company performing many of the same duties.

About two months after Kyle started, Rob noticed that Kyle was not performing as he’d expected, and was actually performing at subpar levels. To top things off, he was showing up late to work. While Rob had gone through the interview process designed by his company, taking all the precautions did not seem to help, and somehow he ended up with the “evil twin” of the man he had interviewed.

This situation is a common problem all businesses must deal with. All too often, the interview goes great: the candidate has the skill set and possesses the knowledge to perform the duties. You check the references and previous job history, and everything checks out just fine. So, what seems to be the problem? Well, remember, some people are just great interviewers.

While hiring a new team member can be a shot in the dark, it doesn’t have to be. By following a few simple strategies, you can avoid hiring the evil twin.

  1. Use an up-to-date (and accurate) job description.

  2. So many organizations take this for granted, even though it is the foundation of the hiring process. A job description should reflect what the employee will do on a regular basis, not on a daily basis. In addition, a job description is not how the employee will be evaluated; rather, it should define what his or her duties are.

  3. Define a minimum skill set requirement.

  4. The key here is a minimum skill set requirement, not all of the skills necessary to do the job. If a candidate has all of the skills, you run the risk of having them burn out more quickly, thus increasing your turnover rate.

    Think about it this way — if you worked in the medical profession and the position required an RN certification, would you hire someone with an LPN certification?

    A good tool to help with this is a skill-set test, which will make sure the candidate has the skills necessary. This way, when your candidate claims to be proficient in a software program, you can measure their skills. It’s important to have several of your current employees take the same test prior to interviews so that you have a baseline to measure your candidates against.

  5. Have members of the team assist in the interview.

  6. Chances are you won’t be the only person working with the new hire, so get a couple of senior team members to conduct a short interview to make sure the new hire will fit in. As an added benefit, having team members involved allows them to be part of the process and remain invested in their growth as well as the development of the company.

    Have everyone involved in the interview process ask one or two of the exact same questions. This accomplishes two significant things:

      a. Shows consistency (or lack thereof) in the candidate’s responses and message.

      b. Shows the candidate’s frustration level. If the prospective employee gets annoyed the third time the question is asked, you need to ask yourself: do you want that person on your team?

  7. Ask probing questions.

  8. Think back to the basics of communication — the person who is asking the questions is the person in control of the conversation. If you have several preset, open-ended questions to ask all of the candidates, you will get a better understanding of each candidate from a comparative point of view.

    Questions should evoke emotion when possible. This will allow you to see how the candidate reacts in stressful and even ethical situations. There are several good books strictly written about interview questions; take some time and search these out. Find the questions that fit your industry or business. Remember that not all questions will fit your business, so find ones that best suit your needs.

  9. Do a background check.

  10. A background check includes checking references and, in many cases, utilizing an outside company to perform the complete background check. Consider this example: Deborah appeared to be a great candidate, yet when the complete background check came back, it revealed that Deborah did not graduate from the college she listed on her resume. In fact, she never graduated from college. While the position did not require a college degree, the fact that she lied on her resume was enough to rescind the offer.

  11. Hire on attitude.
This seems like common sense (and it really is), but so many employers think that the skills are the most important thing. However, the top reason employees leave an organization is conflict with a team member or supervisor, so attitude is very important.

If you say your employees are your most important assets, prove it, and make sure the person you offer the job to has the right attitude — also known as team chemistry.

In January of this year, the West Virginia Mountaineers (ranked 9th in the BCS poll) defeated a much higher ranked Oklahoma Sooners team (ranked 4th in the same poll) in the Fiesta Bowl. Just a few weeks before the match up, West Virginia’s head coach announced he was leaving and would not coach the team at the Fiesta Bowl. Bill Stewart, the special teams coach, was given the job in the interim. After the win — during the Fiesta Bowl post-game interview — Stewart talked about the good chemistry of the team and credited that chemistry with pulling this group of talented young men together to defeat the great Oklahoma Sooners.

The bottom line is this. The skill of a person drives the will of a person. A person who has all of the skills and lacks the will to push and perform at peak levels is just not the right fit. You can always teach new skills, but as for the will…well, they either have it or they don’t. You make the call.

About the Author

Gregg Gregory, founder of Gregg Gregory, LLC, works with organizations to create a culture where people work together and perform at peak levels. Through his interactive workshops and consulting, Gregg’s clients achieve greater team focus, cooperation, productivity, and impact. His experience includes more than two decades of human resources, real estate, and mortgage banking, as well as radio and television broadcasting. Please contact Gregg at 866-764-TEAM or visit
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