4 Keys to Hiring Objectively

by Chris Young

A while back I stumbled upon this article, "7 'Non-Negotiables' to Prevent a Bad Hire."  The article lists seven Non-Negotiables that the discussed company requires when hiring candidates.  They include: respect, belief, loyalty, commitment, trust, courage, and gratitude.  

The author of the post notes that instead of hiring based on Non-Negotiables like technological skills, they look for emphasize these characteristics, which have proved to be successful in determining employee performance for their company.  The company identifies the characters in each candidate based on interview questions from multiple interviewers.  When I read that part of the article, it felt like a kick to the gut.  Relying on the traditional interview to identify such traits seems ridiculous, especially since there has been so much research on the bias that the traditional interview entails.  Using the traditional interviewing methods to identify those traits is impossible to do consistently.  

While the company is not using the right method to identify the candidates' traits, they are making Non-Negotiables a key component of hiring.  More importantly, they have tailored the Non-Negotiables in a way that will help define their company culture.

To use Non-Negotiables in the hiring process you must follow these keys:

Non-Negotiables should be tailored to the company.

When I researched the company associated with the article above, I sensed something special. It reminded me of Zappos in a way.  Zappos is an amazing company to buy shoes (I know from experience) and has become legendary for the culture they have, protect, and hire for.  I believe companies like Zappos and the company identified in the article have the ability to develop a special culture that becomes legendary and creates a reputation or "word-of-mouth buzz" that attracts more of the right people who truly hold similar beliefs.

The culture of a company must be carefully shaped and protected.  A company should not negotiate with regard to its culture. Companies must hire and retain those who fit and support the culture.  The company from the article is right on track when it comes to hiring those who fit the culture.

Only use a structured interview process but proceed with caution.

Research has clearly demonstrated that human beings are biased.  The interview process' primary "instrument" is the interviewer, a human being who is filtering the candidate's words, actions, appearance, demeanor, and skin color through their subconscious mind. A highly-structured interview process will improve the potential (over unstructured) that character traits may be identified.  The company in the article used multiple interviewers for a comparison on each of the traits.  However, even with multiple interviewers it is nearly impossible to remove bias and even more impossible to pick out people with great interview skills from those who actually have the skills or traits for the job.  This leads me to the next key to using Non-Negotiables when hiring.

Use personality assessments to measure traits.

A valid personality assessment should only account for 20% of the hiring decision, but it is a great tool to compare interviewer assessments to.  For example, I once had a client who interviewed a candidate multiple times over the phone prior to taking our personality assessment.  Once the candidate took the personality assessment, we were surprised to find that his personality traits didn't fit what the company was looking for at all.  We shared our concern with the client, but he insisted on flying the candidate in for a more formal interview.  After spending an entire day with the candidate, our client more than agreed that he wasn't fit for the position.  Fortunately, our client was able to prevent a bad hire, but most times employers hire based on a short one hour interview.  Our client thought the candidate was great after having several long phone conversations, but the personality assessment plus more time spent with the candidate proved he wasn't a good fit.

Use a hiring scorecard to make the hiring process objective.describe the image

The ultimate objective is to create a hiring process that is as objective as possible. Using a hiring scorecard ensures Non-Negotiables are effectively accounted for. A hiring scorecard forces the hiring process to be measurable, transparent and consistent.  We use a hiring scorecard that includes Non-Negotiables common to many types of positions, as well as the Non-Negotiables specific to a company and its' culture like specific character traits.  Our hiring scorecard determines how high or low risk a candidate is to hire.  You can download our hiring scorecard template here.

Non-Negotiables are a distinct part of the hiring process.  Sometimes they get overlooked because a candidate seems so great on other aspects you are willing to negotiate the Non-Negotiable.  This is the last thing you should do.  Follow the four keys listed above to ensure you account for all Non-Negotiables and hire in an objective way that consistently gets you people who fit the culture.

            Download the sales hiring scorecard