Posted by: Joe Hoffman | May 9, 2008

The Art of the Hire

Hiring people for your business is one of the more important tasks a manager has to cope with and it is my experience, that contrary to self-belief, most people are unprepared to do it well. In fact, the higher up the company food chain you are, the more critical hiring well becomes. Over the years, I have put together bits of received and perceived wisdom into a model for finding the perfect hire.

A very simple model:

KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Attributes they must have) + Integrity (how they live their life and relate to work) + Thinking Style (brainpower) + Behaviors (how they the react when poked) + Interests (as it relates to the company’s interests).

This first piece, the KSAs, is important for not only the initial hire but also the future performance appraisal and promotion opportunities. We start by getting together with all the people or (outside advisors) who are impacted by this position and very carefully define both the unique requirements but also a yardstick for measuring each. I have put together one example of one Knowledge factor, one Skill and one Attribute for a specific technology person. In this case you are trying to hire the manager of a new software (Operating System) for a group to be set up in China. This would be expanded in the real world.

Knowledge Factor (one of the things this person must possess.)
Computer Operating System design (Desktop)

Rating Factors (how the interviewers will rate the applicants level)
1 –Basic — — –They took an undergrad course
2 –Good — — –Has experience as a first level call center support
3 –Journeyman — Has experience as a third level tech support
4 –Expert — — -They designed real world OS (s)
5 –Guru — — –They wrote the definitive book on it and are recognized world wide

Leadership (NOT Managerial Competence)

Rating Factors (how the interviewers will rate the applicants level)
1 –Basic ———-Never managed anyone
2 –Shows Promise –Team Leader
3 –Mid-Level ——Rapid Promotions 2 levels
4 –Leader ———Understands and lives “Manager’s Job One”.**
5 –Great Leader —-Her people will take a bullet for her.


Cultural Awareness

Rating Factors (how the interviewers will rate the applicants level)

1 — Basic

2– Limited – – Asian – American speaks English only

3– Prior Work experience in China Some Mandarin

4–Raised in China – Fluent in both English and Mandarin

** Manager’s Job One Please visit my entry for this topic.

Every job is going to be different, but spend some time with your hiring team to work out the right mix of KSAs for each position/job, that you are trying to fill. Screen the resumes against the KSAs bring your top choices in for a round of interviews. Now you have a tool to ACTUALLY do a series of structured interviews that gets at facts and minimizes interviewer biases.

In future notes I’ll expand on the Integrity, Thinking Style, Behavior and Interest components of an outstanding hire. It is not as complex as it might seem and there are tools to help you. We all actually do this every day in all of our relationships and transactions but we all are not as adept at it as some are. Using structured approaches such as these will vastly improve the quality of the people that you bring into your business.

Good Hiring!


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