Hiring Right – 10 Tips to Finding and Hiring the Right Employee

There is no magic approach to finding and hiring the right employee. However, there are some best practices you can implement that will increase your odds at success. Here are 10 tips to finding and hiring the right employee.

Make a Plan

The first step in any successful endeavor is to first get organized. Hiring is no different. If you fail to plan in the hiring process you plan to fail. Your plan needs to encompass a number of things. First and foremost, for which skills and experience are you hiring? Taking the approach of, “I’ll know it when I see it,” won’t work.

Start with a clearly defined and reviewed role description. This is what you are expecting the person to be able to do, so make sure your interviewing plan will identify his competency to do so. A formal plan will also help you avoid bias in the process, thus leading to a more successful hire and better results.

Identify Essentials

A big part of your plan is identifying the essential needs and distinguishing them from the nice to haves. The essentials are priority and as such need to remain the focus of the hiring process. You can identify the essentials if you stick to your plan and use the role description accordingly. These would be the core things the individual must do and be able to do to be successful. Don’t get lost in the illusion of the nice to haves.

To help identify whether applicants possess core essentials, set up job-specific screening questions in your applicant tracking system so that you may score and/or flag candidates based on their answers.

Sometimes you’ll identify the nice to haves and get fixated on them as you brainstorm how you can apply them. If they do not have all the essentials they won’t be successful and no amount of successful application of the nice to haves will make up for it.

Provide the Right Environment

The success of a hire goes well beyond the actual hiring process. You want that person to stay with your company as long as possible and perform the best he can, right? This means the right things have to continue to happen in order for that hire to be an ultimate success. Making sure the individual is aligned properly within the organization and environment will help ensure this success.

Start out by finding early wins for the new employee. This will help to build confidence and establish a supportive and rewarding environment. Be intentional about training hiring managers on this trait, and include it as a part of your strategic employee onboarding process. The more wins a new hire can rack up early on the more successful he will be in the long run within the organization.

Interview for Success

Interview success is bolstered by making a plan. But it goes beyond that. You must actually make sure you are hiring for the right things and interviewing accordingly. If your interview isn’t focused on identifying the correct competencies, abilities and fit, even the seemingly best candidates won’t succeed long term.

You have to approach the interviewing process as a due diligence process. You have to approach it as objectively as possible and assess based on facts.

Pay Attention to Red Flags

Red flags will come up in the hiring process–they may come up multiple times during the hiring process. Every time a red flag appears, take care to note it on the applicant’s record in your applicant tracking software. One red flag may not create pause, but multiple red flags can pretty clearly indicate a future problem.

How to spot red flags. Red flags can be pretty subtle, but most likely you will recognize them and you just have to make sure you record them. For example, if the position will require night and weekend work, don’t ignore a candidate that states she prefers not to work every weekend. “Every weekend” may really mean she doesn’t want to work any weekends. It will eventually become an issue.

Study Top Performers

If this is a new position, it’s a bit of a gamble as you don’t really have a precedent. If this is a frequently hired position or you are replacing someone who was good at it, use that information to your advantage. Study what made that person successful, and identify the traits and skills of the top performers currently in the position. If possible, involve some incumbent top performers in the selection process, and consider assessing the cognitive and behavioral traits of your top performers using an employee assessment tool in order to create a benchmark profile against which candidate assessment results will be compared.

Avoid comparing candidates to a past or current low performer. If you think you will have success by hiring the opposite of a low performer, you are not necessarily hiring for success. What you may end up doing is just hiring the opposite behavioral traits and not necessarily someone who can excel in the position.

Focused Networking

Building a network must involve–you guessed it–networking. Forget about recruiter networking groups. After all, you aren’t hiring recruiters. Identify networking groups that are associated with your target market. As you attend events, you will get to know who the leaders are in your particular industry and with whom you need to associate.

When networking with these individuals they will definitely know who the top performers are. As you build these relationships, they will be more willing to identify these individuals for you and even direct them your way. This is one of the best ways to narrow down a candidate pool to only top performers.

Have a Value Proposition

Awareness of your competition and what they are doing to attract and retain employees is critical. You must be prepared to either match what they are doing or figure out a way to differentiate your organization from an employment brand standpoint. What is your value proposition? Why would employees want to come work with you?

Know Your Market

To be a good recruiter, you need to have your thumb on the pulse of the labor market. Doing so will ensure you target the right individuals and conduct searches in the right places. This will also help you decide where best to post job ads that will attract the candidates you are seeking. To streamline this process, search for external job boards by category in your hiring software. ExactHire’s HireCentric platform offers this feature, including the ability to easily post to these job boards from within the applicant tracking system (ATS). Focusing in the wrong areas will only attract the wrong candidates.

Lean on Referrals

The best for last. A heavy focus on referrals should be the goal of any great hiring strategy. There are two main reasons referrals need to be front and center in your focus. First, good employees will refer good people because they want to work with the best. Second, referrals typically have an instant fit and they already have a relationship with the person who is referring them. Top notch job seekers will be more willing to make a change for a friend than slug through the traditional hiring process without the benefit of any insider insight.

Want more ideas on how to attract and retain the best employees? Visit ExactHire’s resource page for more tips and techniques.


Photo Credit:  William Iven

Think Before You Hire! 10 Common Mistakes Made in Rushing the Recruitment Process

Hiring is one of the most critical tasks and challenges an organization faces. Yet, unfortunately, too many approach it as transactional or don’t allocate the proper attention, priority and resources towards it. Even with a gainfully employed talent acquisition staff, the struggle to keep up with today’s hiring needs promotes a rushed approach to the recruitment process.

When you rush through the hiring process, you make mistakes and miss critical steps. You may be in such a hurry, you hire “good enough.” This will ultimately become a problem. If you want a top performing team you can’t settle for good enough. Fortunately there are some common mistakes you can avoid if you are aware of them and slow down enough to address them.

1 – Failure to Clearly Define the Role

Rushing a hiring decision and overlooking a few critical steps can lead to a host of problems. One of the most critical steps is ensuring a clearly defined role description that contains essential functions, skills required to do the job, competencies required to be successful, and in some cases the environmental factors. Namely, the hiring decision is not based on the use of objective data such as a clearly defined role description. In the absence of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, candidate selection is left up to opinion and extremely subjective decision making.

2 – No Interviewing Plan

Failing to plan for making any business decision is not good. Failing to plan your interviews and questions will almost guarantee an ultimately adverse outcome to your hiring decisions. When you fail to plan your interview, you end up just having a conversation. Then your decision is based on whether or not you enjoyed the conversation.

3 – Asking “Yes” and “No” Questions

Typically this is a result of not having an interviewing plan as well as an untrained interviewer. Avoid, at all costs, asking questions that elicit a yes or no answer. It doesn’t tell you anything about the candidate and he/she will almost always give you the answer you want to hear. This is where a planned process will call for behavioral based interview questions.

4 – Asking Leading Questions

In an interview, you will naturally draw a 50% conclusion by the time your first handshake is over. Right, wrong or indifferent, it happens. If that initial conclusion is positive, you will want to see one succeed in the interview. Without knowing it you will actually help the candidate answer the questions correctly. In doing so, your subconscious will take over and you’ll begin to lead him/her to the answer you’re seeking. A savvy candidate will pick up on it and give you the answer you want. Thus, you completely missed an opportunity to objectively assess the candidate.

5 – Not Involving Others

Hiring is a team sport. As such, you’re bound to make mistakes if you go at it alone. You will miss things others will see. Not engaging a candidate’s potential peers in the interview could be costly. Not only do you want to verify the candidate has the right skill set, but also will fit with the rest of the team.

6 – Falling Victim to Interview Fatigue

Interview fatigue can easily take its toll if you cram too many interview sessions into a short span of time. This can cause you to only vividly remember the first and last candidates you interview. In fact, when coaching job seekers, most are told to seek the first or last interviews of the day.

7 – Ignoring Red Flags

This is one of the most common hiring errors out there. You’ll hear and see little things during the process of interviews that will make you take pause. They will stick in your head and you’ll try to push them to the back. They concern you, but you rationalize it and figure it won’t be a problem. Then the day comes and you say, “Well…I knew that when I hired him.” These are the red flags you noticed in the process.

Always remember this. A candidate is on his BEST behavior during the hiring process. If you notice red flags then, multiply it by 10 and that’s what you’ll eventually get. Don’t rationalize red flags. They will inevitably become a problem.

8 – Avoiding an Analysis of Facts

Similar to ignoring red flags, this hiring foul will cause you a headache later. Remember, interviewees are (should) be on their best behavior in an interview. They should be prepared and ready for what you may ask them. They will seem like a rock star during that hour conversation. However, don’t forget the facts. Does their past performance align with your needs? After all, it is the best predictor of future behavior.

9 – “I Can Teach Them That”

Although this may be true, you must understand what you are signing yourself up for. Do you really have time to teach them the basic skills they need to qualify for the job? If your company does not have a great training and development program to support this, odds are it won’t happen. You can probably get away with teaching them the nice-to-have skills, but don’t think you’ll be able to teach them the core critical skills. Note, this is different than teaching them the job or teaching them how to use the resources and tools to do the job. You’ll have to teach anyone you hire how the job is performed at your company. You just want to avoid having to teach them the core skills needed to perform the job.

10 – “Maybe They Will Change”

In a rushed hiring situation, you will tend to overlook potential issues that you’ve identified in the hiring process. Due to time constraints, desperation, or whatever else the scenario may be, you may be tempted to assume they will change a behavior or environmental clash. If you’re concerned about it, and think they will change it, think again.


Staying disciplined to a sound recruitment process, avoiding too much subjectivity and focusing on a candidate’s verifiable qualifications will help you avoid these common mistakes and attain better ratios of hiring success.


For some advanced tools to help you avoid hiring mistakes during the recruitment process, check out ExactHire’s employee assessments.

5 Recruitment Tools That Give You the Advantage

The competition for talent requires organizations and their armies of recruiters to maintain a competitive advantage and a sharp edge when it comes to their recruiting and hiring practices. The modern day recruiter must be proactive, responsive, open-minded, and a little bit competitive. An applicant in your pipeline has also applied to other places so it’s imperative you’re on your game.

There are a number of things that can give an organization and its recruiters a competitive advantage in the gladiatorial arena of today’s hiring environment. Whether you face lack of applicants or lack of qualified applicants makes no difference. The fact is, the best applicants aren’t just dropping on your door-step.

An ace recruiter realizes that speed to hire without jeopardizing the process or quality is critical to winning the recruiting war. You have to be able to attract the best active job seekers to apply and make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Likewise, as a recruiter, you need to be able to sort through those applicants efficiently and recognize the best fit quickly.

Fundamentals of an Advantageous Process

There are some basic considerations when establishing a process aimed at giving you the upper-hand in hiring active candidates. The combination of speed, information requirements, accessibility and recruiter decision making all come into play.

Reducing the complexity of applications is probably one of the most critical aspects of the process. Allowing for a “quick app” collecting the minimum information needed for you as a recruiter to make a “call / no-call” decision is about all you need initially. Making your application mobile friendly is a good first step in this process as it forces you to abbreviate the information you are requesting.

Many times an application process is bogged down with irrelevant and excessive information. This can be a turnoff for some candidates and they may leave the process. There’s nothing more frustrating for an applicant than spending a lot of time on a resume, uploading it to your ATS, only to find out you want them to fill out a digital application as well. Limit the information you need to collect from them to the essential information you need for a “call / no-call.” decision. You will get more applicants!

Mobile friendly application processes will place your opportunities in the hands of more people, literally. If they they can apply with a few taps of the screen and a little bit of initial information (e.g. via Indeed or LinkedIn), you are sure to gain the attention of more people. This also means you can’t purely rely on the artificial intelligence of most applicant tracking systems. AI features are great at flagging applicants, but a human decision is still required.

Gain a Competitive Advantage with These Five Functions

Be sure that the applicant tracking system you select provides for these five key functions, which when leveraged properly, will grant you an extreme competitive advantage.  A system like ExactHire’s HireCentric ATS will provide all these features and more giving you a robust platform with the functionality you need to compete in the recruiting space.

User Interface

As mentioned earlier, the less painful you can make an application process the better. A mobile application is a must and an abbreviated process is critical. You don’t want to lose applicants before they’ve even completed the application. Take a hard look at your ATS of choice. Is it just an infinite amount of text fields requiring manual data entry?

A fast application should provide for the critical information necessary for you to make a “call / no-call” decision. This may include name, phone number, email, current position and brief summary, and any “knock-out” questions you may have. Caveat – make sure knock-out questions are actually relevant and matter.

Social Recruiting

It goes without saying that integration with social media sites is a must for every recruiter. A modern and effective ATS needs to interact and leverage social media. You should be able to push jobs to and share jobs on social media sites. As well as allow current employees to do the same. This allows a more active approach to recruiting rather than relying on the “post-and-pray” method.

Applicant Management

Your applicant tracking system is the heart and sole of your hiring process. If you’re fortunate enough to get high double-digit or even triple-digit applicant counts, you will need an efficient method for keeping them organized.  Top line features allow for the integration of applicant assessments and questionnaires. Your information gathering process should rely on who the applicant is and what they are capable of more so than a labored list of previous jobs, duties and functions. Assessments and questionnaires will provide you with an interactive look at who you’re considering for employment.

Paperless Onboarding

The hiring process doesn’t stop once an offer is made. Your onboarding process is the first impression your new employee will receive from your company. Remember, they have nothing invested yet, so a bad first impression could be the difference between a fully accepted offer and a rejected offer. Allowing for e-forms, digital signatures, video tutorials, etc.; will set you apart from the labored and antiquated new hire paperwork.

Analytics and Sourcing

What good is an ATS without the ability to leverage and mine the data that exists? Continuously improving on your process is sure to improve your speed to hire and attract more of the right applicants. Basic information such as time-to-hire, workflow, interviews, hiring yields among others, should be expected. Advanced information that gives you the ability to more precisely target your most successful applicants is what makes a significant difference.


The application process is the first impression an applicant gets of your company. Make it a good one. If you keep these fundamentals in mind and choose an applicant tracking system with some key competitive features, you will surely be on your way for winning the war on applicants. Remember, in today’s labor market, you typically need them more than they need you!


Want an advantage? Contact ExactHire to learn how our Applicant Tracking System can give you the edge you need.


Photo Credit: trainer24

Thank You, But We’re Not Hiring (You)

Thank you for your interest in our company. Though your resume was impressive, we have decided to consider other applicants further. I apologize for the disappointing news, best of luck in your job search.

After reading an email like the one above, a flurry of emotions begin to take hold. Overwhelming disappointment, crippling self-doubt, and a fear of eternal unemployment begin to manifest when reading rejection after rejection. College students and recent graduates, who were once eager to take on the business world, receive these emails and are quickly knocked down into the dark hollows of reality and exclusion.

College students spend four years participating in activities, workshops, volunteer events, and clubs among the countless hours of class and homework to simply be told that, outside of internship experiences, any extracurriculars hold little to no bearing on what the business is actually looking for in a candidate. Internship experience is often heavily tied to your major; CNN reported the following about various college majors and levels of success found through employment rates as well as wage:

Graduates who majored in agriculture, construction or nursing are dominating the job market. Their unemployment rates are 2% or lower — less than half the national average of 5%. Recent grads with nursing degrees make about $48,000 a year. Fine arts graduates struggle a lot — their starting salaries are on the lower side of the spectrum of new graduates: $29,000 a year, 7.6% are without a job and 62.3% end up taking lower paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.

This may seem daunting, but I am here to help! As an English major, I was told time and time again that I would never find a job – we all know the English major jokes, like McSweeney’s, Things to do with your English Degree, but in reality, it doesn’t matter what degree you have or even how hard you work – what matters is how smart you work or at least how smart you say you worked on your resume. The key is phrasing and confidence. So let’s start on how to even get through the countless job boards in order to gain the attention of a potential employer.

Where to Look

Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and here in Indianapolis–the Charitable Advisors nonprofit job board—are just a few of the many job boards that you, a potential applicant, can look through to find a position nearly anywhere in the world. Some of my tips are to really look at the descriptions before you just click “Apply” all willy-nilly. After all, you don’t want to receive emails and phone calls from employers in which you’re not actually interested…it’s a waste of everyone’s time, yours included.

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When looking at the postings, there should be some key takeaways and red flags. With each post and potential application you should make a mental pros/cons list. As an example, let’s look at the three listings:

1st Post – Freelance Social Media Coordinator:
Pro: “Posted five hours ago” – ensures that you’ll be one of the first applicants
Con: “Dates: October 31st-January 22nd*” – no potential to work more than 3 months
2nd Post – Freelance Writer
Pro: “Sponsored by Work Market” – since the company is sponsoring their own work, it is likely that they are well known and can provide a position that is exactly what you are looking for (in the freelance world)
Con: “Sponsored by Work Market” – oftentimes when a job listing is sponsored, it either has been dormant or it is done through a recruiting agency (which isn’t always a bad thing, it’s all about your personal preference) and Work Market is a site that requires payment for specific applications
3rd Post – Sales Specialist – PT Freelance
Pro: “Part-Time Sales” – as long as you enjoy sales positions, this is guaranteed to not have a predetermined end date
Con: “Posted 30+ days ago” – this job has probably been dormant or filled for awhile now.
Generally, it is unlikely to hear back from a listing that has been posted for more than 10 days (based on personal experience)

Though I can’t guarantee you these methods will work in finding you a job, I have listed a few websites where you can find a job, potentially leading you to the pond of real-world employment (or interning).
VelvetJobs (this one requires a membership)
Charitable Advisors (non-profit positions)

Selling Yourself (and Skills)

I’ve mentioned a few times that the huge selling point is phrasing and working smarter, not harder; in a resume, cover letter, or interview you want the employer to see you as an ideal fit. As a fine arts grad myself, this should be overwhelmingly concerning, right? Well, lucky for me, I minored in business and interned solely in the marketing field throughout college (hence, I am able to phrase my experience as a strong concentration in business and marketing). My dreams of being an editor-in-chief and publishing young adult authors such as Sarah Dessen and J.K. Rowling have been put on the back burner (for now) in order to make ends meet. I’m kidding – I truly have enjoyed working in the marketing field, and anyone that enjoys reading, editing, and writing should strongly consider looking into a business-esque job because the possibilities are endless. But that doesn’t let everyone off the hook; if you didn’t minor or intern in the business field, how do you even land an interview?

First, you’ve got to believe in yourself. Sounds cheesy, I know, but if you think you’re qualified, than others are more likely to believe it too. Your resume is the primary place to present this confidence. Everyone knows how to list jobs and internships, but not everyone knows how to describe the experience. Monster, one of the job boards listed above, made a list of mistakes to avoid that you can check out here, but what I have found to be most important are tips number four and eight.

4. Highlighting duties instead of accomplishments
It’s easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job duties on your resume…Employers, however, don’t care so much about what you’ve done as what you’ve accomplished in your various activities. They’re looking for statements more like these:
· Used laptop computer to record weekly meeting minutes and compiled them in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organizational reference.
· Developed three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program performance.
· Reorganized 10 years worth of unwieldy files, making them easily accessible to department members.

8. Leaving off important information
You may be tempted, for example, to eliminate mention of the jobs you’ve taken to earn extra money for school. Typically, however, the soft skills you’ve gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic, time management) are more important to employers than you might think.

These tips lead the employer to see that you’re driven to achieve rather than someone likely to sit by and wait for direction. Success, no matter how big or small, is an important factor to exhibit on a resume. It shows the employer that you are motivated and confident in your ability to bring achievement to a team. It’s easy to become discouraged when entering the workforce, but what is important to remember is that you are capable of anything you set your mind to. Finding a job you like is hard but selling yourself on a piece of paper is even harder; you have to believe that you deserve that job then take the necessary steps to obtain it.
The hiring playing field is far from level, but by being confident in your skill set and searching in the right places, you may find just the job you’ve been looking for.

Image credit: Dealing With Rejection by Honest Blogger (contact)

Why More Is Not Always Better – Recruiting Talent

Is the old adage, “Less is more.” really true? Nowadays, new jobs are posted EVERYWHERE! You can find them on job boards, social media, industry specific sites, and even in the newspaper still…I think. This means that MORE applicants are likely seeing your openings, which can also mean MORE applications to review. Hiring can be super stressful when there are too many applicants to review for a position. Here are a few things to remember to make sure you don’t make the mistake of having too many applicants:

  • Be Specific in Job Post

    One of the easiest and obvious ways to reduce the number of candidates is to be extremely specific about what you are looking for in a candidate. Let the applicant know exactly what the required skills are for the position, the location of work, amount of travel and any other requirements that the position may entail. This will hopefully discourage unqualified job seekers from applying and keep you efficient while sorting through the candidates. Beware not to “weed” out everyone though!

  • Be Selective in Where you Post

    Not all jobs need to be on all social media pages and every job board. Depending on the level of job, you could use a basic site such as or  Other jobs could be posted on if it is an executive level position. Finally, consider posting on industry specific sites to help narrow down the field– for example for positions in the hospitality industry.

  • Be Concerned with Screening

    Did you know that you can use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to ask “Knock Out” questions? ExactHire’s HireCentric ATS allows questions to be added to the application process to make sure the candidate will fit your exact needs. This will help you streamline your recruiting process and save yourself time (and hassle!)

Sometimes less IS more, especially when you’re looking to quickly hire for a high skilled position in a competitive job market. Time wasted on posting, sorting, and vetting could be the difference between making the perfect hire and having to settle for an OK candidate. Use these three tips to optimize your hiring process and add top talent to your organization.

“Time wasted on posting, sorting, and vetting could be the difference between making the perfect hire and having to settle for an OK candidate.”


To learn more about ExactHire’s hiring technology, please contact us today for your free demo.

Feature Image Credit: Full of Work by reynermedia(contact)