How to hire high achievers


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Recruitment is all about minimising the risk of hiring the wrong person. Because hiring an unsuitable employee is expensive. So with that in mind, what is the most expensive employee you can hire? Well it's what we call a category three employee. Essentially there are four types of candidates that we can recruit.

There are the unsuitables. They are easy to eliminate in the recruitment process. An entry-level junior recruiter can do this for you.

And then there's the second category, the maybes. They may have the right personality but not quite the right experience, or vice versa. You may be able to stretch them, train them, over time, but there is a higher risk associated with taking them on board. We really only consider these candidates if we cannot find what we're looking for in the pile of better looking candidates.

And then there are the ones that look potentially great. Resume and their experience is of interest. We interview them, impressive. We test them and reference check them, fantastic. We hire them. And then we realise that we wish we had not. And I bet we have all hired some of those at one point.

Then there are the candidates that looks fantastic. We hire them and they are truly sensational. And they excel and they stay. And these are the people who are all looking for.

The difficulty in recruitment is to identify a category three candidate that looks great but is not, and separate them from the category four candidates, the ones that look great and are truly great. The category three candidates are the really expensive employees because they're often not so bad that we let them go, even knowing that their performance is not satisfactory. We just hope that they will get there eventually. They have a high opportunity cost and it's constant and ongoing because they keep hanging around the organisation for years. They can easily cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At 11, we use an assessment matrix to minimise the risk of appointing a category three candidate. The assessment matrix is our recruitment blueprint. All the selection criteria are listed on the left side. This is what should be used to assess the candidate's suitability for the role. That will be education, experience, all the way down to KPIs, risks in the pasts, and personality traits. In this case, the recruitment process consists of screening, behavioural based interviewing, document verification, skill testing, personality profiling, and reference checking. All the selection criteria should be addressed at least once during the process. However, depending on their importance, they should have multiple and independent sets of verification.

For example, if we get three independent observations, let's say accept personal responsibility, which we will assess in our interviews, as well as through personality profiling and during the reference checks. If all of these observations lead to the same conclusion, we have minimised the risk for that selection criteria. If a candidate has two positive observations and one negative, then this doesn't mean that the candidate is unsuitable. However, the risk is higher for that selection criteria. The philosophy is to minimise the risk for all the selection criteria through independent, individual, unrelated observations.

At 11, we have created software that built this matrix, and it has made the recruitment process much more transparent and thorough. If you have worked with agencies before, you might have experienced that you gave an agency a spec for a person you're looking for. And shortly afterwards, some CV lands at your doorstep. Why they are suitable, it's not always obvious what process they've gone through can be questionable. The assessment matrix that we have created can assist you in hiring more superstars than underperformers. Feel free to contact us if you wish to hear more and I do thank you for your time.


The most expensive employee you can hire

It is a Category 3 employee. The trick is to spot them and eliminate them during the recruitment process. My best advice is to use an Assessment Matrix. Firstly, what is an expensive employee?

Recruitment is all about minimising the risk of hiring the wrong person.

Essentially, there are four types of candidates:

  1. The unsuitables: easy to eliminate in the recruitment process; an entry level junior can do this for you
  2. The maybes: they may have the right personality but lack experience; you could train them up, however, there is a higher risk associated with taking them on board
  3. The look goods: resume and experience are of interest; interview - fantastic; testing and reference checks - fantastic; we hire them ... and we wish we had not
  4. Then there are the ones: look great and are brilliant in the job; they excel and they stay

The difficulty in recruiting is separating a category 3 from a category 4 because they both perform superbly in the interviews. They both look like high achievers.

How to hire high achievers - the most expensive employee

Category 3 employees are expensive

Their performance is not disastrous yet continuously unsatisfactory and regularly below par, however, not bad enough to warrant a termination. Therefore, they have a high opportunity cost. It is ongoing as they stay with the organisation for years. They are truly expensive employees because they continue to underperform.

Their performance is not disastrous yet continuously unsatisfactory and regularly below par, however, not bad enough to warrant a termination. Therefore, they have a high opportunity cost. It is ongoing as they stay with the organisation for years. They are truly expensive employees because they continue to underperform.

Next time you recruit, I recommend the use of an assessment matrix. The assessment matrix is the “recruitment blueprint”, and is simple to set up.

The selection criteria are listed on the left side, with the stages of the recruitment process heading the following columns. Selection criteria are used to assess the candidates’ suitability for your role.

Each candidate should address the selection criteria at least once during the process, however, it is better to have multiple, independent sets of verification - also known as double and triple checking. For example, if three independent observations (initial phone screening, interview, and reference checking) are obtained that all lead to the same conclusion, then the risk is minimised.

A candidate with two positive and one negative observation is not necessarily unsuitable, however, the risk is higher for that selection criteria. The philosophy is to minimise the risk for across all selection criteria through individual observations.

If using a recruitment agency, this is the least that should be expected. Ask the consultant to detail their process and the Assessment Matrix. If it can't be shown to you, you have the right to question if you are getting value for money.

Download an Assessment Matrix template for your personal use:

How to hire high achievers - category 3

Selection criteria

Screen

Interview

Docs.

Skill test

Profiling

Refs.

Education







Year 12




Experience







Electrical trade / crane maintenance



Sales - hunter




B2B selling




Service contract understanding




Excellent negotiation skills




Planning and scheduling 




Work under pressure




Stakeholder management - advantage




Production presentations / demos




MS Office - intermediate to advanced


Other







Work location - Rockingham




Verify CV vs LinkedIn




Accept expected salary ($100k)




Previous warning of termination?




Will you pass a drug test?




Personality







Dominance - 69%





Influence - 55%





Steadiness - 23%





Compliance - 42%





Forms signed







Health / police check






Signed document - tell the truth






Docs verified







Driver’s licence





Citizen AU / NZ or PR





Medical check





Probity check






11 Recruitment - Christian Madsen
Christian Madsen
Managing Director
11 Recruitment


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  • Great article. I would have to agree on 3 been the most expensive hire. They often “talk the talk“ but can’t can’t preform and become totally disengage. However if they hang around for years I would then say their superiors would be the most expensive hire for not addressing the issue.

  • Marisa Romeo says:

    Great article!. The matrix would be very useful as a multiple checking tool when recruiting.
    In my experience many recruiters fail to address “organisational fit” within the key selection criteria, this is perhaps why we get more 3’s than 4’s.
    Adding 3 or 4 criteria to identify candidate attitudes, beliefs and motivations I have found helps, along with an honest recount of the role expectations and organisational culture may save us from hiring the expensive employees.

  • Michael ackrell says:

    Totally agree too many times you run checks have a great interview. Then you hire and they are world champions for the probation period. Then they go bad I like the idea of the triple check would be ideal to spend the time to get the right candidate for the job

  • Frank Kennedy says:

    Great article Christian. Spot on with the candidate types and a very good solution provided to find the ideal employee.

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