Seven Steps to Hiring–and Retaining–the Right Person, By Beverly Flaxington


There are a lot of unsatisfied workers out there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that about 50 percent of all employees leave their job within the first six months of being hired. And in a new survey by Right Management, a whopping 86 percent of employees polled said they plan to actively look for a new position in 2013.

The most basic reason for worker discontent is a mismatch between what they want out of their job and what the position actually offers. Whose fault it that? The employer’s.

When hiring, most employers don’t look for behavioral match or cultural fit. The good news is that there is a relatively simple and straightforward way to find out who this job seeker really is and what she wants, and to predict with reasonable accuracy whether she’s likely to fit in and stay for the long haul.

Here is a seven-step approach to hiring the best people every time. It’s a model that has a real-world track record of success.

Step 1: Be clear about success for this role.
Be clear about what an employee in the position would need to do in order to succeed. The job description you write should include: people with whom the employee will be involved; the role’s major areas of accountability; how performance will be measured; working conditions and other requirements unique to this position; actions and behaviors that are critical for success; and skills and knowledge required for the position.

Step 2: Match the “carrots” to business objectives.
A common mistake employers make is that they come up with a salary and benefits package that’s based on what the candidate needs or expects. Instead, consider what the firm needs to accomplish and requires of this position, and then design compensation to specifically address your company’s objectives.

Step 3: Develop an interviewing strategy.
Know in advance who will be involved in the interviewing process and how much weight each person will have in the final decision. Have a procedure in place for comparing notes and sharing thoughts and impressions after the first round, including when the meeting will take place and why they recommend for or against hiring. Create guidelines for collecting feedback so the post-interview meeting does not devolve into decisions based merely on “like” or “dislike.”

Step 4: Know what behaviors will succeed in the role.
Take time to identify the behavioral style this job requires. Your assessment of the job (and the candidate) should take into consideration how he will need to: manage problems and challenges; interact with people; handle a steady pace and work environment; and deal with rules and procedures set by others. Every person has behavioral preferences, and every role has behavioral requirements. Match them as closely as possible.

Step 5: Fit candidate motivators to company motivators.
Consider the workplace culture. Is the atmosphere relaxed, social, and highly collaborative? Or do people work independently, driven by fast turnaround and a competitive pace? How do client and customer relations shape the workplace culture? What are the spoken and unspoken values that define your company and how you want to be in the marketplace? Communicate this to potential candidates and be sure their values align with yours.

Step 6: Ask questions that provoke revealing answers.
Analyze the job and critically evaluate the major areas of accountability, how you’d measure performance, critical success factors, and other criteria that’s essential for this position. Based on this job analysis, the behavior style identified in step 4, and the cultural values from step 5, write a detailed set of interview questions that are specific to this job. Make sure you ask the same or similar questions of every candidate so you have a good way to compare them. Ask questions that will give you important information. For example, don’t just ask about background, but ask why the person succeeded or didn’t in past roles. Ask about their favorite employer and why. Ask how they specifically dealt with an issue in their past. Probe to get a window about how they performed so you can “see” them in action.

Step 7: Establish ongoing feedback and communication checkpoints.
Hiring the right person is the first part; keeping her happy and on track is the next part. Establish regular milestones and feedback check-in points. At regular intervals–monthly, quarterly, or yearly–have reviews in which you and the candidate discuss specifics of her job. What is she doing well? What does she need to correct? Be as clear as possible about what you observe and what you need her to do differently. Don’t wait for an end-of-year discussion; keep the dialogue open and ongoing.


Beverly Flaxington is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA), hypnotherapist, and career and business adviser. She’s the author of five business and financial books, including the award-winning book, Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior, and her latest book, Make Your SHIFT: The Five Most Powerful Moves You Can Make to Get Where YOU Want to Go (ATA Press, 2012). Learn more at

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