• February 2015

10 Tips for Making a Good Hiring Decision

By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author of
The Essential HR Handbook and The Big Book of HR

I wish there were a magic formula for always hiring the right person. And I hope I’m not the first person to tell you this: It doesn’t exist.

There are, however, some strategies you can use to increase the odds of hiring the right person — someone who will not only stay with your organization, but contribute to your success.

Making good hiring decisions is not an exact science, but if you follow these tips you can increase the odds of hiring the right person for the job:

  1. Understand your organizational culture so that the person you hire will quickly become comfortable and productive. Every organization has a culture — whether you know it or not. In order to hire the right person, you need to understand the culture at your organization, so take time to think about it.
  2. Carefully determine what skills are required for a new hire to be successful in the open position. Think about people who have done the job before and what they did well — or not so well. This will help you come up with required skillsets. It is also a good idea to think about some of the qualities you might like the new hire to have but that aren’t required. For example, you might require three to five years of progressive management experience in your field and desire experience with one of your competitors. Keep in mind that you need to be able to defend why you require a particular skill or educational level.
  3. Once you know what you are looking for, consider how to best conduct your search. It is important to “cast a wide net” for applicants and use every available resource — including employee referrals, the careers page on your organization’s website, industry job sites, diversity sites, LinkedIn, and more.
  4. Screen applicants using the required skills you identified in number 2 above. Conduct screening interviews by phone to determine which candidates to bring in for face-to-face interviews.
  5. Before you interview anyone, put your questions together, and ask each applicant the same questions. Be sure that anyone who conducts interviews for your organization knows how to conduct them fairly and legally.
  6. After each interview, summarize your notes — but do not write down anything on the application or resume. Consider using sticky notes or some other way to jot down your thoughts that can be easily disposed of.
  7. Carefully evaluate candidates against your required skills and your organizational culture. Your thoughtful evaluation should help you come up with your best choice. When you are ready to make an offer, make it contingent on background and reference checks.
  8. If a candidate verbally accepts, put together an offer letter that spells out the contingencies.
  9. Check the candidates’ references and conduct a background check.
  10. Welcome the candidate to your organization!

For more information on how to make a good hire, see the first 12 chapters of The Big Book of HR. Look for future Hiring articles, which will include more information on how to successfully bring new hires onboard to ensure that they feel welcomed and valued.


About Barbara Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and has consulted for organizations around the world.

She has served in senior human-resources leadership positions with Marriott International and at several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding The Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.

Her books include The Essential HR Handbook and The Big Book of HR.

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