4 Top Hiring Problems & How Topgrading Can Help

By Jessica Wishart

In one of our recent weekly Keep Smart company meetings, we had certified Topgrading coach, Jenny Rodriguez-Hiring_peopleVargas, talk to our team about people issues, particularly, hiring the right talent.  If you are familiar with our blog, you know that we are big Jim Collins fans, and we talk a lot about getting the right people on the bus.  But, many of our clients are not sure how to do this.  Topgrading is a very comprehensive system to help get and keep the right people working in your company, and many of our clients have had great success using the method.

One of the things that Jenny shared with our team is the Top 4 Hiring Challenges companies must overcome:

  1. Vague Job Descriptions - The first mistake many companies make in hiring is failing to come to agreement on details and metrics for the position before hiring.  If you are not clear on the purpose of the role, the required competencies, what the person will be accountable for, and how you will measure their success on those accountabilities, you will not be able to effectively evaluate whether you’ve made a good hire.  The fix for this challenge is to prepare a Job Scorecard for each position before you hire the person. We have created a Job Scorecard Rhythm tool that is based on the Topgrading fundamentals that lets you determine ahead of time what the successful person in that position looks like so you will know when you’ve found him or her.
  2. Screening from Resumes - All of us were taught at one point or another to use our resumes to sell ourselves and put our best foot forward.  The result is that many resumes contain exaggerations or leave out important information.  If you are using resumes to pre-screen candidates, you are missing a lot of the picture.  Topgrading uses a detailed career history form to address this; the history requires the candidate to fill out detailed information about each role like starting and ending salary, reason for leaving, and successes and challenges.  This enables you to screen more effectively by eliminating people who are out of your salary range or who have a spotty work history so that you don’t even have to phone screen them.  Another important step to integrate into this early part of the hiring process is the “threat of reference check.” If the person is applying for a job they know they are not qualified for or don’t have good references, they will often self-select out of the process at this point.
  3. Competency Interviews are Easily Faked – Similar to resumes, all of us have probably been given some basic training on what to expect in an interview: questions about what we would do in a certain situation or how we have demonstrated a particular behavior or skill in the past.  There are lots of books and trainings on how to present ourselves positively and answer these types of questions in a way that makes the candidate sound better than they really are.  With the Topgrading interview, which is chronological, in-depth, and structured, the questions are about the candidate’s educational experience starting back at high school, and about each of the jobs the candidate has held.  The interview gets into the candidates' career plans and goals and how they assess themselves.  It is far more revealing than a basic competency interview so that you are getting to know as much as possible about the candidate before extending an offer.
  4. Ineffective Reference Checking - Many hiring teams spend a lot of time and effort trying to track down the candidate’s references only to be denied by HR representatives. Some employers skip over this step when they are really excited (or really desperate) to hire someone.  With Topgrading, the candidate sets up the reference check for you with previous bosses, peers, customers, and direct reports.  You then ask the person giving the reference to rank the candidate on critical competencies.  So, it is not a fluffy kind of conversation but one that is data driven.  You can even get the candidate to rank himself or herself on the same competencies to compare with what references said about that person.

The best part of using Topgrading to hire is that it is a measurable system.  You can track KPIs in Rhythm for your hiring process and know where you need to make adjustments when you are not getting the results you want. It might seem like this is a lot of work, and it is… but not nearly as much work as managing an underperformer or having to go through the hiring process again each time the position turns over because it was not the right fit.  If you need more convincing, check out a recent blog about the cost of a mis-hire.

Invest in the future profitability and growth of your company by integrating some of these Topgrading best practices into your hiring process now! 


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Jessica Wishart


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