Hire Slow, Fire Fast

(Just got the word from a client that he’s letting a key staff member go. I’ve been seeing this coming – here’s my response.)

I’m sorry to hear it, yet I understand both the reasons you hired her and the reasons she isn’t working out. It does happen. From what I’ve heard from you here and previously, you’re certainly making the right move for the right reasons, and that’s an excellent thing.

The old saying “hire slow, fire fast” is worth repeating. I would encourage you to invest some time in an ongoing effort to find good people, and keep their resumes on hand for later need.

[Another client reports very good results by having an ongoing process of interviewing a few people every month and keeping the resumes of the best ones on file. Then, when there’s an opening, he can call down a short list of good candidates and find out which ones are still available. This hugely beats the alternative of having an urgent need and hiring in a hurry someone you hope is “good enough”. They usually aren’t.]

Sam Carpenter, the author of “Work the System” (my favorite management book of 2008), recommends this checklist for assessing people during and after interviews:

1. Did the applicant show up for the interview on time?

2. Minimum score on aptitude test?

3. Does the applicant to know about our business? Are they looking for just any job?

4. Do they smile? Do they seem happy? Do they seem self-disciplined?

5. Do they listen or are they just waiting for their turn to talk?

6. Can they carry on a conversation? Do they look you in the eye when they talk?

7. Are they neat and clean? Do they take care of themselves? (These indicate self-discipline.)

8. Job history — do they bounce from job to job?

9. Is the applicant a clearheaded? Did they pass the drug test?

10. Is the applicant somebody who plays by the rules? Did they pass the criminal background check?

If you have a gut feeling, use it to disqualify people, not to qualify them.

-Tom

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