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Words of HR Wisdom: 33 Great Hiring Tips From Your Peers

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As part of last week's celebration of HR Professionals Week (Oct. 7-11), our sister website, The HR Specialist, asked readers to share hiring tips from their own experiences. Here are some of the best. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comment section below.

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1. Do not be desperate. “If you hire the only candidate because there is no other choice, it may be best to just wait. We hired the only ‘qualified’ applicant only to fire them a year later for making too many mistakes.”

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2. Nice or qualified? “The nicest of people do not always work out for your organization.”

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3. No clones. “Hire people that are NOT like you. Diversity is needed in every field.”

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4. Silence is golden. “For rookie interviewers, don't ever let silence feel awkward—a candidate taking a few minutes to put together an answer is not a bad thing.”

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5. Be resourceful with references. “The bank HR folks in my small city met informally for breakfast monthly so we could avoid passing ‘bad tellers’ around. We couldn't call each other in the workplace but we could chat informally.”

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6. Stand on salary. “Don't cave in to salary demands that are not in your original plan.”

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7. Show, don’t just tell. “I always brought candidates out to the manufacturing floor to show them what they would be doing. A picture is worth a thousand words.”

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8. Speak up. “Don't be afraid to question any ‘bad feelings’ that you have about a new hire even though the hiring manager really wants the person!”

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9. Maturity matters. “When hiring for a management position, ensure that your candidate is mature enough to handle the responsibility of the position. Just because someone is book smart doesn't necessarily mean they are mature enough to handle everyday job stressors. You don't want someone crying in your office daily!”

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10. Follow up with hiring manager. “A great résumé, great interview and great references do not necessarily add up to a great hire. Follow-up as often as possible with the employee and hiring manager in the first few months to make certain things are going well.”

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11. The eyes have it. “When a potential applicant has a distance gaze when answering your interview questions, don't hire them!”

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12. Don't wait too long to make a correction. “Work closely with the (new hire) at first to identify whether or not they are a good fit. If not, offer to help them find the right position, either within or outside the company.”

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13. Talk with former co-workers. “Always do background checks and ask for former co-workers' names and numbers to get a more real response. Many managers give a glowing review because they just want a former bad employee to get a job, any job, that is not back at their company and so they don’t have to pay unemployment!”

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14. Rationalizing = regret. “Make no excuses for your selection. If you have to justify the hire to yourself, you're missing red flags.”

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15. Family matters. “Have a policy that states you don't hire relatives (if you are a small company).”

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16. Stay focused on skill level. “Learn what it is you're looking for. Do not settle, no matter how personable or friendly a candidate is. In the end, there are a lot of great people, but there is only a select few who will actually fit the role, culture and be able to execute and find success in the role.”

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17. Be suspicious of personal referrals. “Don't always go with referrals. Sometimes internal candidates will send you referrals from people they know personally. However, they have no interaction with the person on the professional level.”  

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18. Punctuality’s purpose. “If someone shows up more than 15 minutes late to the interview, think twice. If they are slipshod on what will be their most important day to impress, they will probably not be a hard worker later.”

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19. Beware outside influences. “Do not cave to pressure to hire (or the recommendations of others) if you do not trust them to be more accurate than your own instincts.”

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20. Trust but verify. “Never just take what a candidate says at face value. People will say anything to get a job; it is how they really are that matters. Check and double check past employers. Personal references will tell you the person is a fabulous person.”

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21. Hire for character, potential. “Hire the people who have good character, basic skill to perform the job and ability to learn. The rest of the qualities to be a successful professional will follow. But don’t think you can train professionalism or you can make someone to be nice.”

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22. Just a number? “Don't let managers or your VPs leverage a hire just to get a warm body or head count. Be sure to state facts and be firm with due diligence to be sure that the candidate is the right person with the right skills, along with being able to screen the candidate and there references well.”

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23. Helicopter landing? “Make sure that the 20-somethings don't rely on their parents for every day-to-day decision. And Mom doesn't really care about your attendance policy if Aunt Suzie calls!”

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24. References are the key. “Candidates will be dishonest on their résumés and interviews. Make sure you check references.”

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25. Don’t stay in your HR hole. “Keep a steady check on the pulse of each department, not just during reviews or budgeting.  … Fools rush in, indeed!”

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26. Let references talk. “If you speak with a manager (other than HR) as a reference, allow them to share as much information as they can on the candidate without interrupting.”

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27. Document, document. “If you feel strongly that an individual should not be hired, document it in writing so when management (is) looking for a scapegoat, you have a lifeline. However, when the hire goes terribly wrong, don't wash your hands and say, ‘I told you so.’ Instead, remind the decision makers of the concerns raised, how to recover and what learning you can take away to help avoid this type of hiring error in the future.”

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28. Verify skills. “Make sure you take time to evaluate their portable skill set. Don't just assume that if their current title has ‘IT’ in it, that they know how to work with an IT department.”

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29. Keep it contingent. “Always use the words ‘contingent upon a successful pre-hire screening.’”

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30. Don’t put all your trust in recruiters. “Whenever you hire someone, do your due diligence! If using a recruiter, make sure you know what the fee entails. Exactly how will the recruiter vet the candidate? If you're doing all the work yourself, don't take things for granted. Verify education, speak with the last employer or other reliable reference. During the interview, ask detailed, technical questions.”

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31. Trust your instincts. “In addition to all of the skills matching, verifications and reference checks, sometimes there is a feeling that something is not quite right. If it feels like there is something to be concerned about, it usually is.”

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32. Substance over style. “Do not assume that someone is a professional just because they wore a suit to the interview and had a good handshake. Regardless of experience or no experience, examine their customer service orientation very closely.”

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33. Subtle signal or red flag? “No matter how hard we try with behavioral interviewing and tests, we all sometimes make mistakes and miss clues. Early in my career, I hired an administrative person who had—in subtle ways—shown me in the interview process there might be some red flags. Being new in my career, I was not as attuned to them as I now am. The final straw after the hire came when the manager told me she … came to work without underwear. The message of this, pay attention to these subtle clues, whether in a phone or onsite interview, as to the culture fit of prospective.”

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

M.J., Nevada October 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm

When you narrow down your candidates to a handful for a job, make sure to evaluate the candidates against the work itself, not against each other. It’s possible that none of them are the right fit for the job.

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