July 8, 2013
How To

Use the new science of hiring to avoid regrets

Trying to bring in the best talent by using traditional hiring practices simply does not work. According to Leadership IQ, a research and management consulting firm, traditional hiring practices result in 46% of employees turning out as bad hires and only 19% becoming great hires. The remaining 35% plod along providing mediocre service. This hit-and-mostly-miss approach is especially destructive to smaller companies.

Help is on the way. Online technologies and new interviewing techniques bring precision and confidence to the hiring process. Here are a few ideas you might want to consider:

1. Amend your job description to attract the best candidates

Profile some true high-performers who are currently doing the job to identify the personality traits and competencies that help them succeed in the position. Use the results to spruce up the job description for new hires.

If you are looking for innovative leadership, you want one kind of language. If you need someone who can perform in a routine position with a high degree of accuracy, you will need another kind of language. Correlation studies of online assessments can help you develop language that will attract the temperament you need.

2. Advertise where the best prospects will see your opening

Our economy is heating up and top people (including yours) might be ready to jump ship. Where are they looking? What do they read? Don't abandon typical help-wanted vehicles just yet, but they alone will not bring in the best recruits. This is the era of social networking, so look at sites such as Linkedin and the groups where your prospects might be browsing.

3. Consider using online technology to screen applicants

Soft skills are the trickiest to measure and will be more likely to cause problems in the future. There are a number of companies, including mine, that provide assessments that bring precision to the screening process. Typical online assessments such as the Personality Style Indicator, offered by Resource Associates (, surveys temperament. Multiple scales, such as conscientiousness or impression management, predict such factors as the applicant's capacity for managing relationships and the likelihood that they share the same temperament as other successful workers in their fields. The assessments analyze areas you might not have considered — helping to answer the four key questions of a prospective new hire:

  • Can you get along with them?

  • Can you trust them?

  • Can you teach them what they need to know?

  • Will they stick around?

4. Review the hard skills that your prospects claim they possess with online surveys

There are programs available that help you get around the reluctance of former employers to tell you much in the references they provide. Checkster (, for example, surveys an applicant's colleagues, promising results in 48 hours and to cut the cost of traditional reference checks.

5. Use your screening process to help your new team member hit the ground running

A good, online temperament assessment can help you anticipate future problems with your new colleague and remedy potential problems from Day One.

With the advent of lean technologies and the pressure to do more with less, precise hiring is critical. It can be disastrous for your company without the right tools. The technology is at hand for bringing in the next rainmaker and weeding out folks who do not fit.

Bill Stone, a career and employee development consultant, is a principal at Promising Futures. He is a member of the Association for Consulting Expertise and can be reached through LinkedIn and at


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