Six (not so) Secrets of Successful Hiring

Six (not so) Secrets of Successful Hiring


On the face of it, hiring new employees would appear to involve a simple process of matching the person with the appropriate qualifications with the position available. But appearances can be deceiving, and my experience in both the employment and customer services industries has taught me that finding the right person for the job seldom works if all you’re doing is ticking qualifications ‘check boxes’. While the following factors to consider when hiring a new employee may not be secrets, they do seem to elude the many companies that are still losing small fortunes in staff turnover every year.

Hiring ‘Secret’ 1 –It’s not just about qualifications

Obviously there are many positions that require specific qualifications or experience. But when you have 10 people waving the right pieces of paper in your face, choosing the ideal one for the job in your company is not a case of simply selecting the longest string of acronyms behind a name. Remember that you’re not just filling a position, you’re bringing someone into your ‘family’. So skills are good, but fit is more important.

Hiring ‘Secret’ 2 – You can’t fake warmth

The majority of surveys into what people look for in a partner list warmth or genuine kindness as a top priority. If people seek out warmth in a mate, it makes sense that warmth from a business will hold a similar attraction for them. Genuine human warmth is reassuring and attractive. A lack of warmth in a business, on the other hand, is a recipe for disaster – both in terms of a person’s dealings with colleagues and customers. As a human first, and ‘recruiter’ second, you have an in-built warmth detector. Use it to shortlist candidates that exude real warmth.

Hiring ‘Secret’ 3 –Ensure empathy

The empathetic person understands what someone else is going through and how to make him or her feel better. Empathy is especially important if you run a business that is serious about customer service (which every business should be), because it allows your employees to look beyond the fuming, shouting façade of the angry customer and recognise that the best response is not reaction but sincere interaction. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of your customer or co-worker is an extremely valuable skill.

Hiring ‘Secret’ 4 – Attitude is everything

In a service-driven business, the pressure on employees never really lets up. The only way to thrive in this type of environment is to have a positive attitude. And the best way to determine a candidate’s attitude is to ask questions that require them to demonstrate whether they feel in control of their circumstances or controlled by them. Generally, the person who exhibits an internal locus of control (i.e. they accept that they are in charge of their lives, reactions and attitudes) is likely to have the kind of attitude your business needs when the pressure’s on.

Hiring ‘Secret’ 5 – Think Team

This is something of a no brainer – but still often overlooked. Unless you’re hiring someone to sit in a basement on their own all day, your new employee is going to be part of your team. Choose the candidate that best suits your team and will help strengthen it, even though they may not have the brightest, shiniest CV.

Hiring ‘Secret’ 6 – Conscientiousness is king

Diligence is good. As is a positive work ethic, responsibility, accountability, and all those other great business buzzwords. But what you really want to look for in a candidate is conscientiousness. Someone that takes pride in what they do, how they do it and why they do it. The candidate that understands the importance of all three is the one that’s going to consistently deliver good work.

It’s pretty unlikely that you’re ever going to discover the candidate that exhibits all these wonderful traits, fits perfectly in your team, and has the ideal qualifications. But knowing what you’re looking for vastly increases your chances of finding the candidate who has it – or at least most of it. Just don’t let pressure to fill positions quickly make you fall into the tick-box recruitment trap. Slow and steady wins the race. And the prize is a business built on a solid staff foundation.

Nathalie Schooling
Nathalie Schooling has more than 25 years' experience in the customer service industry. She is the founder and managing director of N’Lighten, a company committed to promoting service excellence through research, training, and strategic insight. For more info, go to the N'Lighten website.