7 Questions to Consider Before Hiring

You are ready to hire, but before you start slinging out job postings consider these seven questions.

How fast do you want the candidate? Many hiring managers say they need the candidate right away but drag their feet responding to qualified candidates to set up interviews. Lengthy delays in the recruiting process may convey to the candidate your organization is not interested in them and they may take another offer. If you are planning on being on vacation, out of town, or just unavailable, then this should be clear to your recruiters from the start so they can best establish the time frame expectations with your candidates.

Is your gut really right? Many hiring managers claim to know within five minutes or less of meeting a candidate whether they are right for the organization. Often gut reactions are based on subconscious biases and good candidates are overlooked in favor of candidates who feel less opposing and most closely mirror the attributes and culture of the hiring manager.  Mirror-image hiring can be very damaging to an organization as it leads to idea stagnation and an army of “Yes Men.” If you want to hire good candidates you must be willing to step outside your comfort zone and hire skilled candidates who may challenge you in the workplace.

How important are the candidate’s skills? Recent studies suggest hiring managers are six times more likely to hire for cultural fit than for the candidate’s skills. Of course skills are essential, but will personality play a huge part in your decision making process? If so, consider defining the skills that are absolutely required to qualify a candidate. Also consider using an assessment company to evaluate your candidates for key skills such as Word, accounting, writing, or even listening. Most assessments are provided online, automatically scored, and the results easy to interpret.

Behavioral assessments: Yes or No? Behavioral assessments can be time intensive for the candidate and may slow the hiring process; however, most are provided online and can be taken at the candidate’s convenience. While the results are generally immediately available, having a consultant review the results with you is often necessary but can be very valuable.  Additionally many assessments provide in-depth interview questions designed to probe the candidate for key aspects of their behavior which allows you to learn more than you could through traditional canned interview questions. This interview guide works best with managers who don’t make a gut hiring decision within the first 90 seconds.

Are you an early adopter? Video interviewing will become the norm in the next few years as it helps reduce travel costs associated with flying in candidates, eliminates the scheduling hassles associated with phone screening. and proves its value as a more revealing tool when trying to determine who is worth bringing in for the face-to-face interview. The question may be: What are you waiting for? Do you fear process change or new technologies? Are you getting or giving push back when you are approached with new technologies that could make your hiring process easier? Are you still holding on to your rotary phone?

Are you compliant? Despite who your gut tells you to hire, you are required by law not to discriminate against protected classes such as race, gender, and age. If your gut for instance is always telling you your candidate is too old, too black, or too feminine, then you may run the risk of non-compliance with federal entities such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Drawing their ire could bring fines, not to mention bad press and lower employee satisfaction. As mentioned earlier you must step outside your comfort zone when hiring and employing a diverse workforce is a great way to do this.

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Will everyone but you get blamed for the bad hire? According to recent studies, recruiting is the HR function that has the highest business impact! Take a second and read that again. Though recruiting is left largely in HR’s lap it cannot be solely responsible for the recruiting process nor can they be solely blamed if hiring does not go well. HR cannot fully understand all the nuances, complexities, and skill requirements of each department. The hiring manager must be involved in the hiring process from start to finish ensuring they are getting the candidates that best match the skills and behavioral attributes necessary for the job. This way time is not wasted unnecessarily.

Recruiting and hiring well has a huge impact on an organization’s success and surely there are many more points to which I could give consideration. Please feel free to share your suggestions.


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Ryder Cullison has more than 10 years of experience working with retained search clients as a search professional. As a pioneer of Interview4, he has great knowledge of video interviewing. He writes about all things hiring and looks forward to engaging with his audience on topics of leadership, recruiting, candidate screening, and employee satisfaction. Follow him on Twitter @hireintelligent and @cullison1


18 Comments on “7 Questions to Consider Before Hiring

  1. Ryder, good reminders and there are two points I’d like to add.
    1 – Whenever possible we need to reduce our and the hiring managers reliance on “gut feeling”. Hire with your head, not your gut. Going with your gut all too frequently leaves one vulnerable to subtle and unconscious biases.
    2 – When talking about speed and skills, you bring up the age old question of “build it or buy it.” You have to know your organization’s philosophy of “buying”, hiring someone with the skills to hit the ground running who will get up to productive speed very quickly but will cost you more at the outset versus “building”, hiring someone with less experience or skills but with the potential and willingness to learn. They will take longer to reach “productive flying altitude” and will cost less to hire, but the cost will be expended in training.
    To work effectively with hiring managers and best serve our organizations, we have to know our organization’s operating philosophy.

    And finally , you’re so right! HR usually gets blamed for a “bad hire” even though we have far less to do with this than the impact of the hiring manager. So get them involved early and often!
    Only the best,

  2. Assessments hold the key to predicting job performance and job learning.

    But, for both predictive validity and regulatory compliance, employers must choose the right combination of assessments, from a well qualified test publisher. Ask to see technical manuals that document that each test measures what it purports to measure.

    “Behavioral” or “Personality” assessments, especially the most popular, self-reporting type lack predictive validity and are fakeable (Morgeson, et al http://bit.ly/H2mKTZ ).

    The best approach starts with assessing general mental ability (GMA or g) in combination with integrity testing. On average, this combination predicts 65% of the variation in job performance and 67% of job learning (Schmidt and Hunter http://bit.ly/R3LTTz ). In contrast, most ad hoc (typical) selection processes operate with predictive validity r < 0.35 (i.e. more than 65% of variation left unexplained). Structured interviews, job knowledge tests and work samples further enhance predictive validity.

    Employee selection process improvements consistently deliver the best ROI and IRR available to most businesses.

    Moreover best practice selection (using valid, job-related measures, from multiple domains) also provides the most direct path to regulatory compliance (Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures http://1.usa.gov/HSCFZi )

    As Peter Drucker wrote (referring to people decisions): "In no other area of management would we put up with such miserable performance." He also wrote: "What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that's another matter."


  3. Regarding the video interviewing – with a previous company, we made the decision to only use video interviewing for interviews with the hiring manager after the candidate had already been through a full phone interview with the Recruiter. That way, we were able to maintain the “blind” status of the first interview, which the company felt offered less opportunity for unintentional discrimination. I’d love to hear from anyone who is using video interviewing for the first interview (no initial phone screen) as to whether they have found this has been a concern or not.

  4. Apologies for the duplicate comments. WordPress was not behaving properly — i.e neither acknowledging nor posting my comment. Then, nearly two hours later, three posted at once.

  5. Great points and areas to think on prior to making a hire. While we all need to hire, it is more important to make the right hire than just a hire.

    The only thing I am not sold on is video interviewing. I am still big with the human element and not sure if I will ever catch on with it.

  6. ‘Video interviewing will become the norm in the next few years’.

    Unfortunately, Ryder, that is not true. The technology/means/ability to video interview has been around for a long time and it won’t be adopted as a positive solution any more than social media has become the end all and be all of recruiting.

    I have used video interviewing in the past on a limited basis and I don’t see it as a substitute to having someone in the room with me or one of the executives I support even when we decide the candidate is not worthwhile.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Interview4 is a great product. In my experience, though, I think that video interviewing is just another recruiting fad similar to “talent communities”.

  7. Thanks, Ryder: Re: Gut vs. Head:

    Some common interview biases we should alert interviewers to (aka, teaching them to NOT rely on their “gut”):

    Central tendency bias – here an interviewer leans towards the middle ground when rating the individual’s answers on all performance factors.

    Leniency/ strictness bias – an interviewer consistently giving either only high or only low ratings.

    Halo effect bias – allowing the rating of one performance factor to influence the ratings given to other performance factors.

    Similarity bias – assessing applicants that are like your-self more favourably. Like usually hires like – diversity in the workplace is good.

    Contrast effect – assessing applicant in relation to the applicants previously interviewed – mentally ranking the overall candidate experience based on the previous one(s).

    First impression – making a decision in the first few minutes of the interview. Just because this person dresses well, talks and present professionally, does not mean they can perform on the job well.

    Biases and stereotypes – allowing personal biases (generalisations) to influence ratings of applicants – i.e. certain ethnicities are lazy, women with young children are unreliable etc.

    Overly sensitive to negative information. Many interviewers look for reasons to reject rather than a reason to hire.


    This is an example of Behavioral Recruiting- dealing with interviewers as they are, instead of how we wish them to be.


    Keith “Ask Me More About Behavioral Recruiting” Halperin

  8. Thanks for all the great comments Richard and Keith.

    @Morgan, @Paul – We in no way intend for video interviewing to take the place of an in person interview rather see it as replacing the phone screen. One could easily say that in many hiring processes, phone screens are the norm. However phone screens present problems such as scheduling hassles and often the candidate has to sneak away from work or conduct the phone screen at a time of day inconvenient to either them or the hiring manager. Video is more revealing than a phone screen and automated interviews allow the candidate to conduct the interview at a time of day convenient to them and allows the hiring manager to quickly review the video interview on their time. Also because the interview is recorded, the interviews for all the candidates can be compared to one another so a more informed decision can be made on who to bring in or even fly in which of course saves on travel costs not to mention the hiring manager’s time.

    How much valuable time do hiring managers waste interviewing candidates they decide are not a fit within the first 5 minutes of meeting them? Video interviewing eliminates this wasted time. Plus because each candidate answers the same questions, the video interview is more structured and thus eliminates many of the biases mentioned above that occur in live formats when interviewers are allowed to stray off script.

    Video interviewing aside, I think the dangers of “Gut reaction” hiring is one of the most serious issues with hiring today and I appreciate the continued discussion on this topic.

  9. @Kieth, you cited some strong points regarding “gut reaction and bias” and why training is important for the interview process. Interviewing is a skill and requires training to learn and be effective.

    @ Paul,I agree with you regarding video interviewing not being the norm in the next few years. This prediction about becoming the “norm” is very similar to what was being hyped about “video resumes” a few years ago.

    I remember hearing how “video resumes” were going to become the “be all end all”, and “written resumes” would be obsolute and a waste of time. Any candiate not utilizing this technology was wasting his/her time and would be placing himself/herself out of the job market.

    Video interviews have the potential for becoming a tool–but definitely not a solution.


  10. Thanks for the tips, Ryder! To add to that, thinking ahead is the most important thing a hiring manager can do prior to starting the hiring process. Some other question to ask yourself: Where do you want to send and post your job description? Do you want to rely on current employee referrals first? If so, how will you increase the number and quality of these referrals?

    And your nod toward creating a timeline is great too. Always know when you need someone hired.

  11. Really great points. Especially true is the point on video interviewing. More and more companies are embracing video interviews because they make it easier to talk to far away candidates, see communication skills, and work around busy schedules. If your company is completely against video interviewing, it might be time to ask yourself why that is. New technology is meant to make the hiring process easier so you can focus on the candidate, not how difficult it is to see them in person.

  12. # 4: Behavioral assessments: Yes or No? A normed assessment that is specifically built for use in a busy work environment can add vital new data to the decision-making process without tying up applicants in long, drawn-out surveys. Even fast enough for a candidate to complete a questionnaire right before the interview and the hiring manager to incorporate the results into the interview … a span of 15-20 minutes.

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