The Best Ways to Hire – So You Don't Have to Fire

Firing someone is never easy. It can be complicated, and it leaves your company one employee down. Sometimes, however, it's a sign of a deeper problem. If you regularly find yourself having to fire your employees, then your hiring process may need a tune-up.

Let's dispel some hiring myths and take a look at what it really means to successfully hire an employee. That way, we can make better hires – and fire fewer people.

Myth: Hiring Managers Make the Best Hiring Decisions

Reality: A broad-based interview process ensures a better likelihood of cultural fit. It's important that potential coworkers (i.e., peers) are part of the interview and decision-making process. Prospective coworkers can bring unique and often accurate perspectives as to whether a candidate will fit on the team. At my company, we seek front-line input on candidates, and this has unquestionably resulted in better hires and lower levels of unwanted turnover.

Plus, if your front lines are involved in the interview process and provide their stamps of approval, they will have a vested interest in the candidate's successful integration. Remember this golden rule: People on the outside looking in are less likely to support a decision than people who are included in the process. Take your front lines with you!

Myth: You Should Hire for Values, Then Teach the Skills

Reality: Ideally, we always would hire for values and teach the skills, but that's not how it works in the real world. Usually, we are looking for a defined skill set and level of experience. To make an excellent hire, we must seek candidates with excellent skills who also fit into our company's culture. In any candidate group, no matter how specialized, you can find people who meet both criteria. However, this takes significant effort, and I've seen too many hiring managers rush to fill a technical need by skipping the steps necessary to determine cultural fit.

To hire for the right behaviors, no matter how specialized the required skill set may be, start by asking your candidates open-ended questions. The interview is a conversation, not an interrogation. Ask questions that begin with "what," "how," or "why," questions that cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Describe hypothetical situations that may occur on the job and ask candidates what they would do if facing each event.

You can also use behavioral assessment tests to determine a candidate's fit. We use assessment profiles for most hires, thought at one point in my career, I did not put a lot of stock in these assessments. I was wrong.

A while back, my company hired a controller. The interview was terrific, and the callback was even better. He passed the skills test administered by our outside CPA. Our team loved him – but he turned out to be one of the worst hires we've ever made.

We administered a profile test and basically ignored it. We convinced ourselves that there was no way the assessment could vary that dramatically from what our eyes and ears told us about the candidate.

Observations about this candidate from the assessment included: "The candidate does not display leadership dynamics in terms of directing, delegating, or holding others accountable" and "He may not be able to assess financial issues from a big-picture perspective. He probably would struggle to develop important processes."

The assessment's predictions were 100 percent accurate. Had we taken the time to digest the report's findings before rushing to hire, we could have avoided untold mutual dissatisfaction. I am not suggesting that any profile assessment is a substitute for an inclusive, in-depth interview. However, an outside assessment can uncover traits you are almost certain to overlook, allowing you to make more informed choices.

Myth: If a Recent Hire Quits or Is terminated, It's Because They Were a Poor Fit

Reality: Certainly, the new hire could have been a poor fit, but often, employers fail to take stock of their own shortcomings that may have led to the untimely departure. New employees leave when their expectations for the job do not meet the reality of the job.

To avoid this trap, draft clear "position profiles." These are more than simple job descriptions in that position profiles spell out the essential tasks a person must accomplish on the job and the outcomes they must deliver. The position profile lets the candidate know not only the technical requirements of the job but also the performance metrics by which they will be assessed and the behaviors necessary to succeed in the role.

You may also want to have new hires sign "culture contracts" on day one. A "culture contract" is a document that clearly spells out your unique rules of engagement. How you conduct business is likely very different from how your competitor down the street does it. Your new employees can't read minds – so, don't keep them guessing.

I am not talking about a heavy-duty legal agreement. Instead, I recommend a simple, one-page commitment signed by the employee and their manager. If an employee's behavior drifts from the culture contract, the contract can be used to bring their behavior back in line.

In order to avoid the painful scenario of having to fire an employee from whom you expected great things, refine your hiring process. When your hiring process yields better hires, you'll do less firing – and everybody wins.

Brian Fielkow is CEO of Jetco Delivery, an award-winning logistics company based in Houston, Texas.