Everyone’s made a bad hire. I have. You have. Let’s face it, no one gets it right 100% of the time. Having said that, there are actions you can take each day to improve your hiring process and minimize your level of hiring mistakes.

Once it’s been decided you need to hire someone for a new job or to replace someone, you post the job to a few job boards and soon begin to receive resumes. You screen the resumes and pick out the ones you like, because they seem the most qualified on paper. Eventually, you decide to hire someone because they interviewed well, showed promise and connected with you to some degree.

These hypothetical candidates check all the boxes. They tell you they can do the job. Their resumes indicate they can do the job. But do you truly know whether or not they perform their job well following the interview process? Did you identify the competencies needed to perform the job successfully before you began the recruiting process? Then, after the interview, did you reflect on whether the candidate had the competencies required?

If your answer is no, then it may be time to rethink your hiring process. How do you know you’ve found the right candidate if you aren’t even sure what you’re looking for? Thankfully, you can minimize the risk of making a bad hire by identifying the competencies needed to successfully perform each job in your organization.


Find the right fit

Let’s define what this means. Each one of us possesses certain competencies that allow us to perform our job successfully. Some competencies are acquired through education and training. For example, a surgeon will go through years of schooling to learn how to perform a surgery successfully. Other competencies are innate to who we are, and therefore cannot be taught.

Let’s use the surgeon as an example. A successful surgeon may possess innate competencies such as high intelligence, a steady hand and a desire to help others. These things can’t be trained, and the lack of such traits represent the biggest risk during your hiring process. So, the question is, how do we apply this idea to our own industry? What are the competencies needed for candidates to perform their jobs well in your organization?

Start by evaluating and ranking the people you currently have. Who are your high performers? What skills or innate traits make them high performers? Take some time and write these down. As you do this, you’ll probably find that you begin to identify competencies that are both taught and innate.

For example, do your high-performing CSRs possess higher levels of empathy and a great attitude? Those competencies are innate. And since these are high performers, they were probably trained properly and are meeting if not exceeding expectations. They may have also had prior experience doing a similar job. They are demonstrating that they have the knowledge, skill and ability to perform the job at a high level.


Evaluate traits

As you evaluate your high performers for each role, you may find they share some similar competencies. That isn’t a coincidence. Similar competencies are an indicator those traits are important for that job.

Now, onto your low performers. I’ve found it’s also a good practice to evaluate low performers and identify what it is about them that causes them to struggle. Low performers have competencies as well, but are they pertinent to the job? You may find some useful information in this practice that will help identify the competencies that are irrelevant — or even counterproductive — for their job.

Once you’ve evaluated the low performers, take some time to reflect on whether it’s a simple training issue, or if the low performers just don’t have the right mix of competencies to perform well within their role.

Now that you’ve evaluated your staff and identified the competencies needed to be a high performer, create internal job descriptions that outline what the job is, what the key performance indicators are, and the skills and innate abilities necessary for a successful hire. Congratulations, you now have a pretty good idea what to look for when you start recruiting and selecting candidates to interview.


Confirm the match

The last thing to consider is how you confirm these skills and abilities when reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates. This is the area where a lot of companies fall short, so take note!

When reviewing resumes, look for keywords, experiences and accomplishments that seem similar or relevant to what you’re looking for. Going back to the CSR example, have they been recognized for their extraordinary customer service? Does their work history align with the job you’re hiring for? And, does that work history indicate professional growth and career advancement? If the answer is yes, proceed to the interview.

During the interview, pay attention to what they are saying. Candidates should be doing 90% of the talking — not the other way around. As they describe what they’ve done in the past, their accomplishments and their mistakes, be sure to note whether their experience and personality align with both the job description and your company culture. If the answer is yes, proceed to the next step in your hiring process. Keep this mindset as you progress further with each candidate and eventually you will land your perfect candidate.

Identifying competencies and keeping a laser focus on them during your hiring process will enable you to make more informed hiring decisions. Sure, you’ll still have to go through the process of reviewing resumes and interviewing large groups of candidates, and you’ll likely have to repeat this process several times. But if you follow the process I’ve outlined, you’ll minimize the number of hiring mistakes at your organization drastically.

Just remember, no one hires the right candidate 100% of the time, but imagine a world where 9 out of 10 of your hires go right. All you have to do is follow the process. Happy hiring! RJ 2.0