How to Hire the Best Candidate for Your Open Position

by | 2 minute read

Are you hav­ing trou­ble hir­ing the kind of per­son you real­ly want for an open posi­tion? In these eco­nom­ic boom times, employ­ers are for­tu­nate if they get a hand­ful of appli­ca­tions. If you’re like many hir­ing man­agers and are in a hur­ry to make an offer, you might make a mis­take that could cost you a poten­tial­ly awe­some can­di­date.

Lau­ren Rivera, at the Kel­logg School of Man­age­ment at North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, led a team of fel­low fac­ul­ty mem­bers through some hir­ing process research. Rivera’s work reveals the kinds of prob­lems that trip up man­agers in their search for the best tal­ent they can find.

Removing Bias

We’re all famil­iar with how the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” can give can­di­dates an advan­tage. Hir­ing man­agers are def­i­nite­ly biased toward fill­ing an open posi­tion with some­one they know. If they don’t know the per­son, they at least want to feel com­fort­able with them. That means they’re hap­pi­er with can­di­dates who went to the same school with them. They want a “per­son­al con­nec­tion” with an appli­cant. This bias caus­es them to over­look anoth­er per­fect­ly qual­i­fied can­di­date. This prac­tice also means the inter­view­er might decide to skip a for­mal assess­ment. That's because they think they under­stand the “per­son­al con­nec­tion” can­di­date so well.

Diverse Applicant Pool

Hir­ing man­agers may not con­scious­ly have a bias toward can­di­dates who are vet­er­ans. How­ev­er, they often don’t go out of their way to hire these appli­cants. Man­agers may incor­rect­ly assume that some appli­cants with mil­i­tary ser­vice records are too rigid, espe­cial­ly if they worked in super­vi­so­ry posi­tions. Employ­ers may also wor­ry that vet­er­ans are unable to think for them­selves after they've spent years fol­low­ing orders.

The truth is that many vet­er­ans receive excep­tion­al train­ing at an ear­ly age. Col. Dan Friend, who was a U.S. Army Chief of Staff Senior Fel­low at Kel­logg, notes that mil­i­tary vets bring plen­ty to the table. They often assume com­mand of oth­ers at an ear­ly age. Fur­ther, research shows “CEOs with a mil­i­tary back­ground were up to 70 per­cent less like­ly to engage in cor­po­rate fraud com­pared to their civil­ian-only peers.”

You may pre­fer to 'go with your gut' when con­sid­er­ing who to make an offer to. That's when your bias­es come into play. To main­tain objec­tiv­i­ty and find the best per­son for the posi­tion and the orga­ni­za­tion, ask every can­di­date to take an assess­ment. The infor­ma­tion from these hir­ing tools, along with relat­ed data like their per­for­mance on tests that you give them, will help you make the best deci­sion pos­si­ble.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice Pres­i­dent of Research for Sales­Fu­el. She holds a Mas­ters in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ver­mont and over­sees a staff of researchers, writ­ers and con­tent providers for Sales­Fu­el. Pre­vi­ous­ly, she was co-own­er of sev­er­al small busi­ness­es in the health care ser­vices sec­tor.