What is the most important thing to consider when making a hiring decision?

It costs a lot of money to hire and train people. You need to find people who you believe will stay with you for a long period of time. They will learn more than other employees in this time. A loyal employee will also work harder for you than a disloyal employee. A good employee won’t help you much if they are ready to leave at the scent of something slightly better somewhere else. You need to consider how candidates have shown their loyalty to previous employers. One of the best ways to see loyalty, though, is through their work history. How long has the candidate worked for one employer before moving on?

2. Personality

An employee’s personality can really affect the mood in the office. You want someone who exudes positivity and happiness as opposed to someone who is always stressed or rude. You also want someone who fits into the culture you’re trying to create in your office. Get a sense of a candidate’s personality with simple small talk. You will also get a sense of their personality through their body language and their general aura. You also need to hire people with the right personality for the job. A customer service employee will likely have a different personality than an aggressive sales associate. Yet, an IT tech will have a different personality all together.

3. Experience

No matter how nice a person is, you need to know that they can do the job. A good way to determine a person’s ability to get the job done is by looking at their experience. Have they done similar work at other positions? How long have they been performing these duties? Do they have education in the area of work? The more experience someone has, the more they will be able to contribute with the least training. Of course, you also want to find someone who is trainable and is willing to adapt to your systems and processes.

4. Hard Working

You aren’t going to get to the next step in your business by being lazy. You can’t let your workers get lazy, either. You need to hire people who work hard and put their all into whatever they do. A hard worker is the person who will stay late or find things to do when work is somewhat slow. These are also the people who will reach out to customers to do the extra mile, ensuring those customers come back to your store again. You can tell a candidate is hard working by asking about a time that they went above and beyond at work.

5. Common Sense

There are certain things you just can’t teach. One of the most important things that people just need to learn on their own is common sense. The perfect employee for you should know how to get things done in the most efficient way possible. They should also be able to figure out basic things for themselves instead of running to you for every little thing. It can be hard to tell if someone has common sense. Try asking trick questions that will make the candidate really think. You can also ask about some of their previous processes at work.

These are the most critical factors to consider when hiring an employee. Naturally, you want to pick an employee who contains all of the important factors while also following your instinct. Hopefully, these considerations can help you limit the number of candidates to the top few. Once you reach this point, you need to use your own intuition to pick the one who rubs you the right way. You shouldn’t go off of how much you personally like the person but how they will be as an employee. And maybe get a second opinion.

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Having an open position to fill can be equal parts exciting and stressful for managers.

Hiring a new employee can be an opportunity to bring new energy to the team, but it can also bring turmoil if the wrong person is hired, said Mary Olson-Menzel, president and founder of MVP Executive Search and Development in New York City. Nearly 3 in 4 employers (74 percent) said they've hired the wrong person for a position, according to a .

The best way to make the right hiring decision is to put in the time upfront thinking through the job description and common traits of successful team members as well as defining the company culture before the position is even advertised. It takes effort to find the right candidate. "You do have to talk with quite a few people to get that diamond," Olson-Menzel said. For an executive position, she typically will screen 200 resumes, have 40 phone conversations, narrow it down to 10 to 15 candidates and interview no more than eight applicants.

Here are some steps that can lead to the right candidate.

Review the Job Description

Before you even advertise an open position, make sure the job description is accurate. One of the biggest mistakes managers make is recycling an old job description and not taking into account how the department has changed and grown since it was written, Olson-Menzel said. Managers also need to consider the chemistry of the current team and think about the team's strengths and weaknesses. "Bring on someone who will help the team grow," she said.

Define what qualities made the last person to hold that job successful, said Lynne Curry, president of Communication Works Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska. Often it's not just technical skills that set an employee apart, but also soft skills like their temperament, their ability to work collaboratively and the way they handle conflict.

Carefully Consider Resumes

While many companies use an applicant tracking system, it's important to ensure that system is using the proper keywords to flag resumes. Work with HR to make sure you are getting the best results.

Create a list of criteria for the job and rate each resume based on those specific attributes. For instance, if one of the qualities that sets the incumbent employee apart is her ability to work across departments, make sure that skill is reflected in an applicant's resume before requesting an interview, Curry suggested.

Don't passively wait for people to apply for the position, Olson-Menzel said. Consider developing a list of target companies you would like to hire someone from. Look for companies with similar workplace cultures, or, if your company has already hired someone from another company who transitioned smoothly into the job and is excelling, consider reaching out to other employees at that company who might be a good fit.

Employee referrals are another good source of potential job candidates. "If you have another professional on the team who is knocking it out of the park, ask them if there is anyone else from their former company who might be interested in a new opportunity," Olson-Menzel said.

Winnow the List

Experts agree that it's best to limit the number of face-to-face interviews to no more than eight candidates. "You will wear yourself out scheduling 20 or more interviews and have all the candidates blur in your mind," Curry said.

Before scheduling a face-to-face interview, Curry will ask candidates to fill out a 10-question survey that asks why the applicant is looking for a new opportunity, what criteria he or she would use to decide between two positions, and other open-ended questions that can be answered in a sentence or two. "Asking them to fill out the questionnaire saves a lot of time," she said. "We can read their responses in five minutes and decide if this is the right candidate to interview."

Another way to prune the candidate list is to conduct a 10- to 20-minute phone interview with the best applicants, asking them to walk the interviewer through their resume. "Have the candidate start at the beginning of their career," Olson-Menzel said. "People like to start at the present and work backward, but that doesn't give you as much color around why they made a specific move or why they picked a specific company to work for."

Interview with Intention

Put together a list of strategic questions that cover characteristics important to the job—for example, leadership, initiative and collaboration—and then divide the questions up among the people who will be interviewing the candidate, Olson-Menzel said.

Make sure the applicant's responses square with the answers given during the phone interview. For instance, if an applicant claims he isn't affected by stress, but during a phone interview he said he was seeking a new job because of pressure from a manager, ask a follow-up question about the difference between stress and pressure, Curry said. "One answer alone doesn't rule someone out, but a series of bad answers might rule them out," she said.

Parse Out Two Equal Candidates

If two candidates seem equally qualified for the job, Olson-Menzel recommends checking their references. "Nine out of 10 times, a reference check will give you the nuances," Olson-Menzel said. If the applicants still seem equal, consider giving them a small project to work on with the team to evaluate how they would fit in, she said. Check with HR to make sure you do this appropriately.

Common Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

The most common mistake managers make is either trying to hire a candidate too quickly or taking too much time to make a decision, Olson-Menzel said. "At a certain point, the data and your intuition must come together to make an educated decision," she said. "Even if you need the position filled immediately, don't rush a hiring decision but also don't let it drag on."

If it's going to take time to get approval to make a hiring decision, be upfront about it with the applicant, said Heidi Parsont, CEO and founder of TorchLight Hire in Alexandria, Va. Candidates lose interest in positions when hiring managers don't share feedback or a timeline, she said.

Another pitfall is not being honest with the candidate about the position. If the candidate's salary requirement is $75,000 but the position only pays $50,000, or if the position doesn't offer a path for advancement, it's important to address that in the interview, Parsont said. "There's no need to address it in the first interview, but it needs to be discussed at some point," she said. "If you sugarcoat too much, you won't find a candidate who's going to stay."

Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.

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