Hiring Considerations for Employers

From: Staffing

Hiring Considerations for Employers

Many employers spend a great deal of time and money dealing with employees that should not have been hired. This problem exists because the only measure of a hiring program’s success is the speed by which an available position is filled. A truly efficient hiring program, however, hires people who do the job required without producing problems.

Successful hiring programs contain the following elements:

  • Job Specification. Define what the job requires in terms of the necessary education, experience, physical capabilities, and interpersonal skills.
  • Recruit Diversity. Diversify the external sources of applicants to achieve the business benefits of diversity; include sources that specifically target women and minorities.
  • Selection. Interview only applicants who at least meet the minimum requirements established for the job; establish and document objective procedure to further focus the applicant pool if there are too many qualified applicants to interview.
  • Application. Require that every applicant complete and sign an application for employment, even if the applicant has a typed résumé.
  • Nondiscriminatory Interviews. Avoid asking questions that — directly or indirectly — elicit information prohibited by the EEOC; avoid personal questions that may be perceived as inappropriate and/or invasive.
  • Job-Related Interviews. Develop a standardized list of job-related questions, for each position, to ensure consistency in questions and phraseology; focus on past experiences, job requirements, expectations for the future, as well as how applicant would handle specific workplace situations.
  • Multiple Interviewers. Involve multiple persons in the interview process; ensure demographic diversity among the multiple interviewers.
  • Nondiscriminatory Hiring. Avoid either the consideration or discussion of EEOC characteristics or customer preferences related to the same in the decision-making process; consider and document only legitimate, job-related factors.
  • Hire Diversity. Be aware that in the selection process, the human tendency is to be comfortable with similarity and unconsciously uncomfortable with difference; and that differences in style, perspective and community contacts are beneficial to the business.
  • Reference Checking. Perform a reference check before extending a job offer; document any attempt made to perform a reference check regardless of whether a response was received.

Types of Hiring

Under the pressures of operating a business, many managers treat hiring decisions more casually than they do other business decisions of similar magnitude. Often, managers have concluded from past experiences that hiring is mostly a matter of luck. However, hiring effective employees does not have to be a matter of luck.

Hiring managers generally use three quite different approaches for hiring employees, which produce vastly different results as follows:

  • Warm-body hiring.
  • Ritual hiring.
  • Performance-based, high-impact hiring.

Warm-Body Hiring

Warm-body hiring occurs when managers simply hire the first person available to fill the open employment position.

Warm-body hiring may occur when the following applies:

  • The manager lacks the time to complete a thorough applicant screening and interview process.
  • Few applicants are available for the position.
  • The job is not considered important enough to warrant a thorough screening of applicants.
  • The manager has simply chosen to not take the required steps or make an overt effort.

With warm-body hiring, an employer is essentially hiring individuals at random and without an efficient selection process. Some hires who were chosen randomly will be good employees while others may prove problematic.

The vast majority of randomly hired individuals will be quite mediocre because each position requires specific, tailored job qualifications that most likely cannot be filled through a random selection. As a result, employers with predominately random hires who are a mismatch for the employment position fail to gain an advantage over business competitors.

Ritual Hiring

Many managers perform ritual hiring where the manager hires people either through a method which is similar to how the manager was hired or as commonly seen in the workplace.

Although ritual hiring may be comfortable, in asking the same questions as asked over the last 10 years and allowing for the same amount of time as allowed over the last 10 years, such hiring is not much more likely than warm-body hiring to predict future job performance because it does not adapt to the inevitably changing workplace.

If an employer happens to use a ritual that is job related, the employer will probably end up with more effective hires than with warm-body hiring. However, if the ritual is not job related, the employer will be systematically hiring the wrong people and the results could easily be worse than random, warm-body hiring.

High-Impact Hiring

High-impact hiring offers a performance-oriented alternative to warm-body and ritual hiring.

High-impact hiring includes the following five critical steps:

  • Analyzing performance. The foundation of high-impact hiring is a thorough understanding of what an employer expects the new employee to do while on the job and how this performance adds value to an organization. The cause of most hiring mistakes is not that managers are incapable of understanding people. Rather, hiring mistakes occur because managers have not taken the steps they could to truly understand the performance required for the job. Performance analysis provides the basis for determining the critical attributes (such as skills, knowledge, or attitudes) that differentiate effective employees from the rest.
  • Anticipating turnover. By anticipating hiring needs and strategies before a turnover occurs allows an employer to avoid panic hiring through such strategies as continuous hiring, succession planning, and redesigning jobs. Panic hiring, when employees unexpectedly leave, is a common cause of warm-body hiring.
  • Recruiting high-potential applicants. Fundamentally, an employer cannot hire employees who are better than the applicants recruited. A thorough performance analysis enables employers to move beyond indiscriminate networking and advertising to a planned repertoire of recruiting efforts that build a pool of high-performing candidates.
  • Developing a comprehensive set of hiring tools. To hire for performance, an employer needs to use a combination of assessment procedures that accurately assess the attributes needed to be successful on the job. Depending on the job, this combination may include the following:
    • Structured interviews.
    • Ability to perform the job.
    • Personality and integrity tests.
    • Work samples.
    • Effective background and reference checks.

Using valid, job-related hiring tools differentiates a performance-based high-impact approach from a ritual approach, and also ensures that hiring is performed in compliance with the law.

  • Making effective hiring decisions. The hiring decision must be based on a systematic review of applicants’ capabilities for performance. Basing decisions on a guess, hunch, or on nonperformance-based hiring rituals will transform even the best hiring system into an expensive, ineffective, and potentially illegal hiring ritual.

Selecting a High-Performance Employee

Employers are continuously faced with the challenge of finding effective and successful employees. There are many different techniques and practices for the hiring process. The process outlined below is designed to serve as a guide for hiring a candidate who will be successful within the employer’s organization.

Developing a Profile

Developing a profile involves the following two determinations by an employer:

  • The employer’s expectations for the position and definitions for success.
  • The knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to meet the specific expectations.


Employers should ask for referrals from each new employee hired and recruit every day.


In screening applicants, it is better for employers to read résumés in chronological order because this allows the employer to follow the candidate through a career and possibly detect patterns and trends. Employers should also conduct a brief phone screening before inviting any candidate in to the workplace for an interview.

Gathering Data

The employer should ask specific questions with a planned purpose. The candidate should be asked for specific examples of behavior with follow-up questions for clarification.

Data Verification

The candidate should have the responsibility of getting references and not the employer. Employers need to ask pointed and specific questions in order to verify the data provided by the applicant.

Evaluating a Candidate

Employers can use a simple matrix to evaluate all the candidates. In situations where additional questions are raised, employers can add to the evaluation using data gathered in the interview.

Review the Hiring Decision

A major factor in a successful screening process is the involvement of more than one person. The actual hiring decision should be made by or subject to the approval of more than one manager. Higher levels of management and/or human resource managers should scrutinize the hiring recommendations and require explanations and justifications for the decision. Any discrepancies between the recommendation and qualifications required for the position should be questioned, as should vague or inconsistent justifications.

The recommending supervisor or manager should also be able to justify the preferred candidate’s selection over other final or interviewed candidates. If the manager’s decision cannot withstand the employer’s internal scrutiny, the decision most likely will not be able to withstand challenge by a plaintiff’s attorney or client.

Employment Offer Letters

An employer may want to provide a written offer of employment that verifies the terms agreed to by the employer and the prospective employee. The offer letter usually outlines that the individual has accepted the offer for a particular position and will start work on a specific date. The offer letter also sets forth the agreed upon salary and describes any benefits that accompany the position.

When writing an offer letter, care should be taken to ensure that no promises of continued employment are made, which might inhibit the employer’s ability to later terminate the individual. As an example, the offer letter should never indicate that the individual will “always have a job with XYZ Company” or that a person is being hired for a “permanent” position or a specified period of time thereby avoiding the creation of or impression of an employment contract.

Employers should have their offer letters reviewed by an experienced human resources professional or attorney because of the numerous and potential pitfalls involved. A sample of an offer letter is at the end of this chapter.

Employment Rejection Letters

Employers may want to provide unsuccessful applicants with a rejection letter that explains why the applicant did not receive an offer. The rejection letter usually outlines that the individual did not meet the company requirements for hire or that the organization has decided to go with another candidate. The rejection letter is not mandatory for the employer and is usually done as a courtesy to the applicant for the time spent during the interview process.

When writing a rejection letter, care should be taken not to promise a continued review or that the résumé will remain on file unless specific time periods are included. These types of promises may result in future problems for the employer. Once again, as with offer letters, employers should have their rejection letters reviewed by an experienced human resources professional or attorney because of the numerous and potential pitfalls involved. A sample of a rejection letter is provided at the end of this chapter.

Employment Agreements

Employers can use written employment agreements to gain certain protections and benefits. Provisions implemented through agreements include future employment restrictions and mandatory arbitration. Employment agreements are often used for professional or executive positions to define terms and conditions of employment, including job duties, termination rights, length of employment, compensation, and benefits. These agreements may or may not modify the presumptive employment-at-will relationship. Employers must carefully draft employment agreements to ensure the agreement is enforceable and does not create contractual rights and obligations that the employer is not willing or able to meet.

When determining whether to use an employment agreement for a particular job position or applicant, employers should consider the following:

  • The extent to which the employee will engage in the use of confidential information and the competitiveness of the business.
  • The uniqueness or status of the position, and the extent to which job duties, compensation, and benefits need to be specifically clarified in relation to the employer’s general policies.
  • The need to manage litigation costs and expenses for employment-related claims through mandatory arbitration or alternative dispute resolution methods.
  • The demographics of the workforce and industry customs and practice. (Do similar positions customarily utilize employment agreements?)