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Practice Management > Marketing and Communications > Social Media

How to hire winners: Two traps to avoid

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How much importance should be placed on the actual interview and the personality of the interviewee? Let’s examine these two traps:

1. How much of the hiring decision is based on the interview? Take a guess. Is it 80 percent or 90 percent? Would you believe 2 percent? According to a University of Michigan study, face-to-face or telephone interviewing can increase your chances of picking winners by only about 2 percent. This is because most candidates are more experienced at interviewing that you are. The ironic thing is that the worse the candidate, the more practice he or she may get at interviewing. Another reason is that most managers judge candidates based on personality instead of job skills.

I have made that mistake many times. I have interviewed people on the phone. If they sound like they can put a few sentences together without major mistakes, I will see them face to face. If they then seem enthusiastic and act experienced in the areas in which I want them to perform, I am tempted to hire. But I won’t and neither should you. Instead, pull together written questions ahead of time and write down the “correct” answers. Then weigh the questions as to their importance from one to 10. You then need to jot down the candidate’s answers and score them on a one-to-10 scale. After the interview, multiply the weight by the number value of the answer. The top scorer wins that round.

2. How much importance do you put on a good personality? According to many psychologists, personality isn’t significant in determining the success of an applicant. The real bottom line is, can the candidate deal with other people?

According to one Harvard study, more people get fired because of personality conflicts than poor job skills. If you are hiring a salesperson or customer service rep, know the answers to these questions: Do they know how to close, answer objections and prospect? Does the applicant have call reluctance? Can they cope with 10 rude people who tell them never to call again and still make one more call? It’s hard to test for call reluctance. But it’s the determining factor between those who stop prospecting after a few rejections and those who persevere to success.

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Kerry Johnson, MBA, Ph.D., is a best-selling author and frequent speaker at financial planning and insurance conferences around the world. Go to for more information.


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