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5 Tips for Hiring a Great Employee

Contributed by Gina Petrello-Pray, Direct Recruiters Inc.

Hiring is as important as profit and loss. Surprising statement? Not necessarily, when you consider that having high-caliber people in key positions is critical to achieving the aspirations of your company.

Because quality of talent matters and can define your company’s success and bottom line, you need effective strategies for spotting top talent. Here are five tips to help you hire a great employee:

Review a resume for quality as well as content. Is it neat, clean and professional? Does it read well and catch attention? Look for a logical flow in work history and experience, but especially look for length of time on a job. Question any short-term stays or any gaps between jobs. However, keep in mind that with the recent economy, there can be good reasons for gaps. I am often asked if a person has been unemployed for a period of time, is it risky to hire him/her? My advice is to look for signs of unreliability or inability to keep a job. If there are no signs of a checkered work history and the candidate’s resume piques your interest, go ahead and schedule an interview to get the full story and make sure to check references for accuracy.

Adequately prepare for the interview. A good interview should not only give you a sense of what the applicant has done, but also show you what he is capable of doing. Remember, you’re also trying to see how well you, other staff and your customers could work with this person, and how much value he will add to your company. I have found several questions that can help obtain useful information about a candidate:

• Tell me about yourself.

• Why are you interested in this job?

• What has prepared you for this job?

• Describe two or three major accomplishments you have had over the past five to10 years

• Describe two or three major team accomplishments you have had over the past five to10 years

• What areas of work have caused you difficulty in the past?

• How do you handle conflict?

Assess the interview once completed. Take time to process the information and measure each candidate against the criteria set for the job. In other words, ask yourself if this is the right person for the job, can he work effectively in my work environment, can he multi-task and problem solve, has he got the motivation, aptitude and attitude to keep this job? Success requires a good track record, a series of accomplishments and personal growth consistent with the needs of the job.

Check references. Avoid 90 percent of hiring mistakes by checking references. Almost all employers ask for references but surprisingly few actually check them. Checking references is a crucial part of the hiring process. Don’t just rely on your own impressions but ask previous employers their opinion. For obvious reasons, the best question to ask is: “Would you hire this person again?”

Don’t delay in hiring. Looking for great employees and raising your hiring standards does not mean slowing your hiring process or getting caught up in the comparison shopping paralysis. In fact, these are actually counterproductive. It keeps the position open too long and gives time for candidates to check out what your competition might be offering. Star players aren’t in the job market long and if you want to capture them, you need to “close” the deal while interest levels are high.

While these tips aren’t the whole picture in hiring a great employee, using them increases your chances. It is important to pay attention to all the details you get from the candidate. It will make the difference between having a great employee working for you or just having a mediocre one. Hiring top people is the goal, interviewing is just a tool used to achieve the goal.

Gina Petrello-Pray, manager partner & VP of Direct Recruiters Inc., Cleveland. Visit

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