The ABCs of 'hire tough, manage easy'
By Mel Kleiman

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When you make it a practice to "hire tough," everything else gets easier. "Hire tough" managers know exactly who they're looking for and refuse to lower their standards. They cover all the bases — from A to Z — and create a win/win situation for employee and employer alike.

Attitude: Hire for attitude, train for skills.

Body Language: During interviews, if you focus on taking notes, you'll miss more than 50 percent of what the applicant is communicating nonverbally.

Capacities: Define the mental (IQ) and physical (strength, stamina, dexterity, etc.) capacities needed to do the job.

Decision-Making: Most interviewers make a hire/no-hire decision within 30 seconds of meeting an applicant. This gut-instinct approach has proven to be less reliable than flipping a coin.

Employees: A great source of new employees is all the good employees you already have. To attract more good people, start an employee referral award program.

Former Employees: Your best source of new employees is all the good people who used to work for you. Go ahead, call, ask if they want to come back — the grass doesn't always turn out to be greener elsewhere.

Gut Feeling: If your gut says, "Don't hire this person," then, don't. If it says, "Hire this person," doubt it and get objective verification through testing and reference checks.

Hire Tough: "Hire tough" systems are the best insurance against negligent hiring lawsuits, workers' comp claims and management migraines.

Interview Tough: Plan the questions you'll ask. Tell all applicants that you expect them to be truthful.

Job: The most important job you have is hiring. If you put the right people in the right jobs, managing them will be easy.

Knowledge: The more you know, the less you risk. There are only two sources of knowledge about a potential new hire — the applicant and the people who know the applicant. Check every source.

Listen: The most common mistake interviewers make is talking too much during the interview. How much can you learn while you're talking?

Maintain Control: Stay in control of the interview by telling applicants up front what you're going to cover. Let them know they'll have an opportunity to ask questions after you're done.

Notes: Take notes, but never on the application. It's a legal document that needs to be kept on file.

Open-Mindedness: Be aware of your personal biases and don't rule out anyone because of them. You're looking for the best person to do the job — not the person you like best.

Personality: Try to get a good fit between the applicant, the manager, the job and the company.

Quality: Once you've identified the capacities (mental and physical), attitudes, personality traits and skills necessary to do the job well, don't lower your standards.

Recruiting: Recruit all the time. The very best time to recruit is when you don't need anyone.

Skills: If you have to hire for skills, make sure you get what you need by testing for them.

Testing: The best predictor of success in any job is testing. Test for every required attribute.

Upgrade: Every time you have to hire, it's an opportunity to improve the whole organization.

Verify References: The only way to avoid negligent hiring lawsuits and bad hiring decisions is to verify the information the applicant gives you against every reference.

Who, What, When, Where and Why: You can't hit the target if you don't know what it looks like or where it is. Write a job analysis that answers these questions.

X-out Unsuitable Applicants: Do a short phone screen before asking anyone to come in for testing or an interview. This limits your legal exposure and ensures applicants meet all your basic requirements.

Yield: Go slow. Don't make an offer before you have all the facts. Always remember that what you see in the interview is better than anything you'll ever see again.

Zero-In: Identify the mental and physical capacities, the attitudes, personality traits and skills you need. Zero-in on your target.

Mel Kleiman is a speaker, consultant and author on strategies for hiring and retaining the best employees. He is one of only 650 speakers worldwide to have earned the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional designation and the president of Humetrics, a developer of recruiting, selection and retention systems and tools. Mel has written five books, including The 5 Firsts: A Simple System to Onboard and Engage Top Talent and publishes a regular blog.