Selecting a High-Performance Employee

From: Staffing

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?)