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March 2009
Hire Carefully, Especially Now
By Denise Altman

     Turbulent times like these offer many challenges to business owners. They can also offer some opportunities. The availability of good talent is one such opportunity.

      It is unfortunate that people lose their jobs when the economy is soft, but having so many good people in the job market can be a real benefit to you if youíre replacing someone or adding staff. Your hiring process should take advantage of the fact that you have more options. We suggest the following steps in your process:

      1. Know what youíre looking for. It sounds simple enough, right? However, too many business owners and managers begin searching without a clear definition of what they need. A good job description and behavioral profile of the job are important. The job description is a practical exercise. It should list the primary and secondary duties of the job, and should be the basis of performance reviews in the future. If you canít spell out what you want someone to do, you canít very well hold them accountable for doing it, can you?

      2. Screen carefully. Your interview process should contain skill-based and behavior-based questions. Every question you ask should have a purpose, and you should know what an acceptable answer will sound like. Behavioral and skills assessments should also be used. You should keep your interview process consistent. That makes it easier to compare candidates, and it makes for a more objective and fair process.

      3. Be open and honest. You want candidates to be honest with you, and you should also be honest with them. Every company has its quirks. Thereís no point in setting people up to be surprised. Be open about what your company can offer and what it canít. Donít over-sell the company or position.

      4. Take enough time. My theory is that you can fill a position quickly or you can fill it wisely. You canít always do both at the same time. If you get in a rush, youíll settle. In this labor market, that doesnít make good sense. If you donít have time to do it right, get help.

      Making a bad hire will cause your company pain in the future. The market is offering you an opportunity to get the best people in your organization. Take advantage of the opportunity and do it right!

     Denise Altman is president of Altman Initiative Group, Inc., helping companies develop better hiring and employee management processes. Contact her at 704-315-9090 or visit

President of Altman Initiative Group, Inc.
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