Six Steps To Hire The Right Person + Worksheet


Last week I shared with you about my search for a nanny. I’ve been in full swing interview mode and am about to make an offer to someone.  Hiring is a great life skill.  My nanny search reminded me that your professional life isn’t the only time you have to use these skills.

As with any skill, it becomes rusty when you don’t use it. I’ve been brushing off the cobwebs and getting fast and efficient at assessing candidates. How do you cut through the BS and hire the right person for a job?

All these interviews brought on a flood of memories from my days of owning a cafe and coffee roaster. Being a seasonal employer, I hired over 100 people in the eight years of owning that business (Yikes!).   Some positions were salaried full time managers, some hourly baristas.  There are key things that span all positions when hiring to get the best person for the job.  

6 Steps to Hire The Right Person1.Be CLEAR!

You must be clear about the responsibilities and expectations of the job.  

  • What is the pay rate, hours etc?  
  • What personality traits are you looking for?
  • What are they responsible for?  
  • Who do they report to?

Define what you want and don’t be wishy washy.  

Don’t post the job until you’ve done so.

Sometimes this is harder than it sounds, especially for small businesses.  We are so used to doing a little of everything and it can be difficult for employees to come into situations like this.  

You will be a terrible boss if you haven’t defined the expectations for a position.   If you don’t tell an employee what you want, you’re setting them up to fail.  

While hiring a nanny, I’m letting all applicants know up front that I want them to fold and put away clothes in addition to light housework (dishes and picking up toys).  If I didn’t tell someone this, I may find I resent them at the end of the day when they are gone and there is a messy house left behind.  

Did I tell them I would like this task done in addition to watching the kids? Some families may say not to do any housework.  How will they know what I want if I haven’t told them?

Set clear expectations right from the start. 

Also, don’t shy away from money talk. Have a pay range and make sure it matches up with what they are willing to work for.  Don’t waste time if they don’t match!

2.  Hire For Personality

Sure, some jobs require certain technical skills.  But most skills can be taught.  I have found that 9 times out of 10 it is best to hire for personality and fit.

You can't change someone's personality but you can teach them new skills.

Hiring for the right personality will lead to longer retention of the employee and better job satisfaction from them and you.

When hiring baristas we were looking for people who were outgoing and could juggle multiple tasks at once.  We didn’t care if they had any experience in coffee or food service.  Personality was 90% of what made someone succeed in the position.

3. Read Between The Lines On The Application  

When reading an application you learn loads of information from someone in regard to what is on the application/resume and what isn’t.  Do they have good language skills?  Have they bounced around from job to job or had the same one for years?  What industry have they worked in and is it aligned with yours?  

Go beneath the surface of what is written on the paper.

Use the information to ask questions that may uncover issues or opportunities. 

While interviewing a nanny I asked her why she wanted to leave her current job working with disabled adults and return to working with kids.  Her answer “I just don’t have as much patience for adults and I’m really just looking for anything else.”  

WRONG answer!  Two things - 1) clearly not what I want to hear when hiring someone to watch my kids.  She sounded desperate and unsympathetic to others.  2) she’s not even smart enough to realize this is a bad answer and come up with a better one

It is amazing what people will tell you that they shouldn’t.  Keep asking open ended questions.  

4.  Decide the Non-Negotiables and do a Preliminary Phone Interview

Interviews take time.  I suggest talking on the phone first and asking a few questions that are non-negotiable.  

You have to decide what is non-negotiable for the position.  Schedule? Pay range? Qualifications?Personality?  Whatever it is, figure it out and have a few questions that filter candidates before moving on to an in person interview.   

Even if you stated this in your position description, you want a verbal confirmation from someone that they fit the non-negotiables.

This saves everyone time!

For many positions I’ve hired for, schedule is non-negotiable.  I need someone for certain hours.  If they can’t work the schedule I need, there is no reason to talk further, even if they are perfect in every other way. 

Non-negotiables are deal breakers.

5.  Listen To Your Gut

Does that candidate seem too good to be true?  Do they look amazing on paper but something in your gut holds you back? Listen to that!  

Many people are OK.  When you meet them and read through their application/resume you don’t feel much either way.  Your gut says “Meh.”

I often start to talk myself into “Meh” candidates being ok. They have potential right?  DON’T DO IT!  “Meh” to you is “meh” to your customer and coworkers.  

Don’t settle for “meh”  

I have made many mistakes NOT listening to my gut.  I’ve learned that instincts are smarter than your brain sometimes.   

You can sense dishonestly even when you can’t pinpoint what it is about someone.

Don’t second guess yourself.  You’ll save a lot of angst, money and time in the long run.    

6.  Check References

So you’ve gone through all of the above steps and you’re feeling confident.  You have the references in your hand.  Should you call them?  You like him/her, your gut says yes, and they said all the right things.

ALWAYS call references!  And listen to them.  

What they say (and don’t say) will tell you A LOT!  

Call three references and make sure they are professional, not personal.  Always ask how they know the person and if the relationship was co-worker or supervisory.  You want to talk to a supervisor!

I typically ask if there is anything I should be asking that I’m forgetting - sort of a catch all for anything else you want to tell me about this person.  

Then I end with “would you hire this person again”  Listen carefully to the answer - is there a long pause, or instant reaction of hell yes.  A lot of the time someone doesn’t want to say anything bad but when you ask this the response will be…”Ummmm…... yeah. Yeah I would say…..yes I’d hire them again.”  They hesitated.  And if you’re feeling any hesitation then you probably want to pass.

So to recap:

  1. Be CLEAR
  2. Read between the lines
  3. Decide the non-negotiables and do a preliminary phone interview
  4. Listen to your gut
  5. Hire for personality
  6. Check References

Download my free worksheet to guide you through the hiring process.

How to Hire the Right Person
How to Hire the Right Person

It will make the experience much better!

Use these tips in area of your life and you’ll save yourself time, money and the headache of hiring the wrong person.  

I’m using them right now as I’m going through the process of finding a nanny.  There is a lot riding on finding the right person.  Fingers crossed!

What are your struggles with hiring?  How do you ensure you find the right person?  Share in the comments below.