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Five-Step Process for Risk-Free Hiring

When you factor in overhead, benefits, and other personnel costs, hiring a $30,000 a year employee is comparable to making a $500,000 investment that is amortized over eight years! The risks associated with making a wrong hiring decision are even higher when you factor in the softer costs of lost productivity, missed business opportunities, and reduced team morale.

All risks of this magnitude must be planned for and managed. The risks associated with hiring the right people for each position in your company are no different. Instead of approaching hiring as if each "hire" is a $30,000 annual investment that can be easily remedied if things do not work out, hiring managers would benefit from approaching the hiring process with the thoughtfulness and precision that half-million-dollar decisions demand. This article suggests a simple framework for increasing your company's effectiveness in lowering the risks that accompany the hiring of new employees.

Five Small Steps - Not One Giant Step

With the goal of reducing the risk that accompanies hiring any new employee, you must begin incorporating certain steps that can significantly reduce the risk inherent in a hiring decision. The following questions need to be answered "yes" by the hiring manager.

1. Can the person do the job?

The first question is the one that most managers focus on. Here the focus is on the candidate, their skills, abilities, and expertise. This question is often answered on a sliding scale ranging from "perfectly suited for this job" to "not a chance." Many companies address this question by administering skills tests to candidates to see if they can do the job. While an affirmative answer to this question is critical, you are still in danger of high-risk hiring if you stop your evaluation here.

2. Does the person want to do the job?

The second question requires greater sophistication in both the testing and interviewing process. This question addresses the candidate's internal interests and motivations. People are often capable of performing specific tasks at superior levels but have a strong aversion towards doing those tasks. The candidate must want to do the job.

3. Does the person want to do the job at our company?

The third question is even more specific. While the focus is still on the candidate, it now adds the character, environment, and culture of your company. Many companies "steal" their competitors' top performers only to have those people fail miserably in the new environment. Determining an answer to this question not only requires the matching of values, "personality styles," and benefits packages but also includes measuring the candidate's ability to acclimate, win others, and work within your specific company culture. Does your company have a power block that will "hang the new employee out to dry?" Will this candidate be able to win the support and protection of those who can help them succeed? You must be accurate about your company, it's political systems, and how the prospective candidate will or will not fit within that culture.

4. Will the person work for this specific manager?

The fourth question is a detail of the third. Here we are talking about personality matches. How a manager interacts, responds, delegates, oversees, corrects, and protects their direct reports has everything to do with the energy the team has to do their jobs. When a mismatch occurs, employees must spend their time and energy doing what they need their manager to do. However, when a match occurs, employees are energized and motivated to accomplish what they were hired to do. Answering this question requires careful matching of candidates to their bosses.

5. Is the person our best choice?

The final question comes out of the laws of practical thinking. Normally, people think that this question is automatically "Yes" if they have affirmative answers to the first four questions. This question is principally concerned with finding the candidate that best fulfills the first four questions. But too often companies hire someone without ever interviewing a second or third candidate. They do this for any number of "good" reasons, but the net effect is that they significantly limit their possibilities. This question goes beyond comparing the top candidate with all other prospects. This question forces leaders to readdress the thinking that led them to begin the interviewing process in the first place. While one needs to be careful not to develop a perspective that only perfect candidates can be hired, too often employers conclude that they must hire someone once the decision to hire has been made.

Follow this five-step process to significantly reduce your risk when hiring. Your people are your most valuable asset and like most things of value, it’s worth putting in the time to achieve the desired results.


ZERORISK HR helps companies hire, develop, and retain the best talent by measuring emotional intelligence or “thinking.” This tool provides you with objective data on how your candidate thinks, allowing you to quickly answer the five questions above. Try the ZERORISK Assessment for free to see for yourself.


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