Hiring can be a very lengthy process, and whatever can be done to streamline the time is useful.  The best way to start recruiting, screening, interviewing and selecting is to spend the time up-front to determine the important skills, experience and traits that are important to handling the position.  This step is often skipped because the hiring manager feels they will know the right candidate when they see her/him, or because they haven’t really decided what the key elements are to be successful in the new position.

One manager asked me recently for help selecting between two candidates – she had done her homework and knew what she was looking for but she wasn’t sure which one to choose because they both had plusses and minuses.  I put the characteristics she was seeking into a spreadsheet and asked the manager to score each of the traits on a scale from 1-10 based on how important it was to her.  Then we rated each of the candidates against those traits and for each trait we gave the candidate a score between 1 and 5.  The score is based on whether the candidate had an unacceptable level of that trait (1 point) to a highly acceptable lever – 5 points.  Then we multiplied the rating of the trait times the rating of the candidate on the trait, and added them up. As we talked, we added a trait or two where it hadn’t been clear initially that it was important, but it became clear when comparing the two candidates.  One example is what we called “steadiness” – because one of the candidates had had reasonably long tenures at each of her prior positions, and the other candidate had many short term gigs over the same period of time.  This didn’t become a factor until the two candidates had had such divergent ways of handling their careers.

Once that was done, the winning candidate was quite clear. 

This is an excellent tool to start with at the beginning of the recruiting process, especially when you want feedback from others in the organization.  Starting by getting consensus on the important variables, and then having all stakeholders provide their ratings of those variables, cuts out much of the (endless?) debate at the end on which is the best candidate.  It also helps you in the phone screening, in the interviewing and in the reference calls because you can hone in on what matters most to you.

(If you took a statistics course, you might remember this technique – it is Bayesian decision making and it helps you quantify subjective material.  It is equally effective when deciding between two jobs, two career paths or even two possible spouses …  J)


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