Hire the Best – Forget the Rest

A Pool of Potential Candidates With One Circled - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring Agency

Hiring new employees means more than just filling holes. You want to make sure that you are hiring the right people. Turnover is extremely costly, not just in immediate financial terms but also in terms of disruption and the negative effect that departures can have on general morale. The hiring process takes time away from other business activities, and having the wrong fit in a role for too long can really sour team productivity.

How Can You Improve the Hiring Process?

A Hiring Director Writing on a White Board - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring AgencyOne way is to look for the best qualities that your most successful employees already have. By reviewing a candidate’s employment history and asking why they made decisions at each career change, a lot can be learned. The right probing interview questions can help you to weed out candidates who will not be a good long-term fit for your business.

With the right recruiting process and focus on the following key qualities, your hiring team should be able to find candidates that will be goal-oriented top performers and be a positive addition to your organization.

Universal Qualities

Naturally, you are looking for different experiences and skills depending on the level of the hire that you are making. However, here are some key qualities to look for that are universal:

     1.  Drive, Ambition and Passion
Great candidates are results oriented. They have ambition and a vision for their career. They are self-motivated; they love to win and to achieve objectives.

     2.  Curiosity
Curiosity is a good proxy for intelligence and for humility as well. Candidates with big egos don’t listen and tend not to be curious.

     3.  Ethics/Strength of Character
A Sign Post With Ethics Vs Other Skills - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring AgencyThis is a critical factor which may be informed by detailed questions relating to a candidate’s past employment experiences, why they made career changes and what difficult experiences they have had and what decisions they made at those junctures.

     4.  Commitment/Tenacity
A review of a candidate’s employment history and a discussion about each position when hiring may reveal how well the candidate weathered difficult situations and what action they took in each instance. Be particularly insistent that the candidate explain what they personally did on each occasion. You are looking for them to speak in terms of “I” and not in terms of “we”. The statement “When I was at IBM, we launched a new global Internet initiative”, doesn’t say anything about what they personally did.

     5.  A “Can Do” Attitude
You want someone on your team who has a positive attitude and who will overcome roadblocks. You want an action-taker, and to some extent a risk-taker, who can solve problems and bring solutions to the table. If not, you will be spending resources and precious time dealing with the problems that they bring forward with no concrete alternatives.

     6.  Specificity and Depth of Analysis (Why vs. What)
The Question Why? Written on a Yellow Paper - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring AgencyGreat candidates speak in specific terms, not in generalities. They can answer “why” and not just “what”. They can see many sides to an issue and understand the nuances of the grey areas vs. seeing everything solely in black and white terms. Their analysis and understanding of an issue is deeper. Weaker candidates tend to generalize and are more concerned about “what” happened and less about “why” it happened.

     7.  Ability to Learn from Past Experiences
Great candidates can explain what they learned from past mistakes. They are able to admit where they went astray and they know what they would do differently under the same circumstances in the future. Weaker hiring candidates are less specific and tend to blame others or outside forces.

     8.  Primary Interest in the Challenge – Now and in the Future
Weaker candidates are more interested in the incidentals of the job and want to move the discussion to compensation, benefits, hours of work etc. too soon in the discussion. Stronger candidates are more interested in the scope of their responsibility, the learning opportunity and the extent of the opportunities for the organization as a whole.

     9.  Collaboration/Team Play
Stronger candidates will be able to provide examples in their past where they have advanced the cause of the organization as their primary objective vs. seeking to advance their own personal interest. Weaker candidates will tend to claim all of the successes as their own while taking only a limited share of the blame for the failures.

It All Comes Down To Your Hiring Process

Your hiring process is the key factor in finding the right talent and making them part of your team. That process goes well beyond what is outlined in this article (for other aspects refer to 8 Common Hiring Mistakes, You May Not Know What You Need and Your Recruiting Process Doesn’t Work) but focusing on the qualities outlined here will at least ensure that you are narrowing in on those candidates who will most likely be the best fit.A hiring checklist - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring Agency

Defining the characteristics of the ideal candidate is the first step in the hiring process, and sometimes the toughest step. Once you have the ideal candidate defined, then your team can begin the search. Even then, the scope of responsibilities is often a function of the candidate, so there is need to be flexible in order to seize upon an opportunity to bring someone aboard who may have a skillset beyond what was originally envisioned.


As an executive recruiting firm based in Toronto, Kathbern Management helps companies find the executives and senior managers who not only have the experience and credentials to fulfill their responsibilities, but also have the emotional and “fit” requirements that will enable them to be successful in a particular environment. We simplify the hiring process and, through our deep research, are able to bring more and better candidates forward than would ever be possible through a do-it-yourself passive advertising campaign.

Contact us today for a free consultation about your key person search.

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