Hiring the Right Candidate: 4 Essential Dos & Don'ts

Donna Wiley, Vice President, Regional Manager at PeoplesBank

The employees you hire can make or break your business. While it’s tempting to hire the first good prospect that comes along and “just get it over with,” that can be a mistake. Small companies can't afford to carry underperformers, so start smart by taking time to figure out your staffing needs before you even begin your search. Here are some tips to get yourself ready.

1. DO - Enlist Your Employees

“Make it clear you’re always looking for good people and ask your best performers for recommendations,” says Donna Wiley (pictured), Vice President, Regional Manager at PeoplesBank. “Your employees will likely know industry peers and usually recommend solid performers. They’re also likely to share an honest assessment of your culture in advance.”

“Another often overlooked reason is employees know what you’re currently missing,” says Ms. Wiley. “Sometimes they have a valuable perspective on what your day-to-day needs are and which gaps need to be plugged to improve things quickly.”

2. DO - Sell Your Strengths

Get the word out about your strengths as an organization. “A lot of our best employees sought us out,” says Ms. Wiley. “They want more than a good job; they’re passionate about being part of PeoplesBank because they share our values.”

Whether it’s your industry or your atmosphere, know what makes your culture attractive and find candidates that mesh. “Fit is everything,” says Ms. Wiley. “Candidates should all have requisite backgrounds, but prioritize cultural fit over deeper experience every time.”

3. DO – ID Desirable Characteristics

Know what you are looking for. The idea isn’t to design the perfect person, but merely to identify characteristics typical of your best employees.

“Your A-list employees and your best customers can tell you pretty much all you need to know,” suggests Ms. Wiley. “Take their suggestions into account along with the characteristics that you value. Having a list of what you consider to be the right stuff can save you a lot of time and trouble down the road.”  

4. DO - Bump Up Benefits

“The best strategy for hiring —and retaining— talented employees, is knowing what attracts them and keeps them happy,” says Ms. Wiley. “It’s more than just money.”

Workplace satisfaction studies have consistently shown money ranks fifth or sixth among job satisfaction factors, while culture, job satisfaction, recognition and benefits such as flex-time and paid health care often rank higher.

Now that you know what to do, here are some don’ts to remember before pulling the trigger.

DON’T - Be Vague

Have a clear job description and convey exactly who and what you’re looking for so there are no surprises. The right candidate will self-identify with your description.

DON’T - Just Think About Right Now

Look beyond what’s in front of you. In addition to what candidates can bring to your organization today, consider what they can offer as the organization grows.

DON’T - Just Consider Their Work Experience

Take candidates out for lunch or dinner before making an offer and get to know them outside the office. For senior-level hires, potentially include the spouse. This adds a different dimension to the interview and helps you discover whether they’ll be a good cultural fit.

DON’T - Ever Make a Compromise Hire

You’re better off waiting to get the right person than settling for a less than ideal candidate. You can’t get best-in-class results with mediocre hires. Never compromise your standards.

Adds Ms. Wiley, “Keep these tips in mind for your next opening, and you will not only find the right candidate, you’ll likely hire a high performing employee who will stay with your organization longer.”