If you are wondering how your business (you and/or your management) can hire smarter, following are several actionable steps you can take to do just that.
Focus on the job description.
To hire the right employees, I always emphasize the job description. Many job descriptions are boring—with all the requirements and duties (for the decent postings) or are very vague – with minimal information. For all positions in my company and for most positions in the companies in which I worked as a CFO or COO, I/we prefer passionate, disciplined, detail-oriented people who are self-motivated and work well with minimal supervision. So I craft the job descriptions as such and ask that respondents provide a brief example. Because I strongly believe that people with a sense of humor do better in high pressure situations that involve other people, I inject humor into the job description or ask questions such as, “Would you be ready to throttle your boss if s/he constantly asked you for minutia on your project?” I also ask people to take a specific action. This ensures that people pay attention (i.e., detail orientation). For those positions that require certain skills, such as writing, I request work samples. Thus, I can verify the general quality of their work or their ability to think creatively. This complete process enables us to both identify great candidates and screen out unsuitable candidates very quickly.
Use shorter screening interviews.
I also am a big believer in the 20-30 minute telephone screening interview. I have heard people typing (they were NOT taking notes, they were multi-tasking) while interviewing. I have had people sound disinterested or be poor communicators on the phone. These are all automatic eliminators. For us, the candidates that go on have at least viewed the website (basic research), have a pleasant voice and relatively engaging persona (relative to the position) and are knowledgeable and articulate.
Follow-up with all viable candidates.
By spending more time on the front end (creating a truly accurate job description, determining a specific action, and conducting telephone interviews), I significantly reduce the time needed on the back end. Finally, I ensure I send a thank you note to all candidates who did not make the final cut but who followed all the instructions. Sometimes people are not a good fit for a certain position but may be great for another position in the future.