Hiring Top
in a Tight 


by Ed Schmitt       

   KNOWING HOW TO HIRE TOP TALENT in an aggressive market place is as critical as having a winning product, strong investors or a well-run executive team. In today's competitive business climate this is a challenge. Hiring is an operation of efficiency, decisiveness and organization. The following steps will insure your success in hiring the right person.

Pinpoint the Decision Makers and Why They are Involved

   Decide who the critical decision makers are for the process. A cumbersome interview process can "kill the deal." Swift execution of the hiring process is a must in a competitive hiring market. There needs to be a limited number of decision makers. The key decision makers must agree upon a time line for the interview process and final hiring decision. Typically a decision should be made within 48 hours of the last step in the process. Successful companies identify candidate concerns and are honest when showing the potential within their organization. They back up their statements with facts and real world testimonials from their firm. Most importantly, time is their ally. Decisiveness will minimize a candidate's potential to court your competitors while interviewing with you.

Know What the Candidates Need To Do For You in the First Year

   Document the goals for the position. It is best to step out of the box and ask the difficult questions. If a previous employee was released from their prior position, understand why. Has the position changed with the industry's evolution or will your old position description suffice? We suggest you focus on candidates who can quantify their past accomplishments in solid revenue numbers or MBO achievements. Too many times the focus is on the previous years of experience and not the core accomplishments/benefits a candidate brings to the table. Don't make exceptions until you have exhausted all options. Rewrite the criteria and start from scratch if needed. Best to hire right the first time.

Pre-Determine How the Candidate Will Be Evaluated

   Decision makers in the hiring process must be on the same page. It is natural to hire people in our own image. Deter-mine what type of personality will succeed. "Gut feel" hires often result in the loss of revenue associated with a poor decision. It is best to find a proven performer and leave chemistry in the lab. Once again, all decision makers must be on the same page.

Understand Why the Candidate Wants a Career Move

   Decide how much flexibility you will have with candidates. The best candidates are adept in dealing with change. If you have the time to train a superstar with a track record of success in a different arena this is an attractive option. The reality of our industry is that most successful corporations look to hire a specific skill set or book of business or when possible, both.

Interview Wisely

   Ask questions that are relevant to your revenue or operational goals based on the predetermined criteria for the job. The worst impression to a candidate is indecision. If they leave your interview without a clear understanding of the position's scope of responsibility, your time has been wasted. A course in behavior-based interviewing is helpful.    A telephone interview focused on quantifying information is efficient and helpful. This will save you time interviewing the wrong candidates face to face. For the right candidates, the telephone interview is a comfort buffer before moving to the next step.

Make It Happen!

   Execute a timely offer and commit to selling the candidate on the opportunity. Your letter must be pre-documented leaving only blanks to be filled in to make it official. Again, it is important to have a time line for the candidate's decision and acceptance. An open offer will simply waste your time as the candidate can now shop the offer around to the other companies. Left with no time deadlines, a candidate will always hold the offer in hand intrigued by offers yet to come. It is better to have an active interviewing agenda than to wait for the inevitable "no."
   The most expensive aspect of hiring is choosing the wrong candidate. Odds are you can't afford not to hire the best. Mastering a timely agenda, among limited decision makers, executing a wise interview process and compelling a candidate to make a decision will provide you with the talent you need. Rapid change is an undeniable industry trend. Your organization is initially perceived by the efficiency of your hiring process. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Don't blow it.

Ed Schmitt is an Account Executive with MRI Retail a Florida-based executive recruiting firm focusing on placing individuals in the following industries: Credit, Debit, Smart Cards, Acquirers, EFT related software and Internet EFT Systems. Ed can be reached at 561.871.1100, ext. 203 or .