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The Alternative Board Blog

Liar Lying to Another Liar: A Brief Guide to Hiring for Retention

Feb. 6, 2014 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Retention diagram on a dry erase board to keep employees, with w

Because I've worked for two NYSE retail organizations, and because I've had the responsibility of hiring thousands of employees, I have a few hiring tips to boost retention rates that you might not be using at your smaller organization.

I sometimes refer to hiring a new employee as one "liar lying to another liar."  The reason I say this is in most small companies, where an HR department is not in existence, the owner or second in command is doing the hiring. These individuals want to hire someone quickly, and they have little patience for the time commitment involved with thoroughly screening a new employee.

During the interview, the interviewer is telling the candidate all the opportunities in the job, so he might bend the truth to sell the applicant. The candidate wants the job, and will say what they believe needs to be said to get hired.

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This inefficient process has a remedy. You can save a lot of time, and a lot of heartache by following my keys to successful interviewing:

  1. Have a written job description. The document should explicitly state duties, expectations, reporting functions and goals.
  2. Create a written interview form, so all candidates are asked the same questions.
  3. The interviewer should be Socratic and basically only asking questions. Use the 80/20 rule, you should be talking 20% of the time, let the candidate talk 80% of the time.
  4. More than one person should interview the candidate.
  5. Behavior assessments are a must.
  6. Check references. In certain cases check credit reports and police records.
  7. Have a thorough training process prepared.
  8. Hire Slow, Fire Fast.

For more information on hiring, please consult TAB's PULSE Survey on Employee Retention and Hiring. This survey contains a high-level summary of findings from polled small business owners. 

As an executive at The Alternative Board, David Halpern has been blazing a wide swath of small business success for the better part of three decades. You won't hear it from him, but David has forgotten more small business success tips than most business consultants will ever learn.

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Written by The Alternative Board

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