How to Hire People Smarter Than You

In General by Barbara Ashton

Hiring People Smarter Than YouAs recruiters we’re in daily contact with a host of hiring decision-makers, from company owners to C-suite executives and mid-level managers.

The single most pressing challenge is not just about finding qualified candidates. It’s always about hiring the right qualified candidates which encompasses the qualities of character, commitment and compatibility.


Ideally they’re the ones who are smarter than the person doing the hiring. 

There is always an abundance of great people in the job market. Finding qualified people is certainly a significant challenge faced by many business owners and executives charged with hiring. More important is determining who, when you have several good qualified candidates, will be the best fit for the job?

How Can You Tell?

Hiring is always a risk. But my best advice is this. If you’re rushing the hiring process, feeling excited about someone you really like, vs making an informed decision about who is actually the best fit for the job, STOP! Yes a likable personality is always important and is always going to sway people in the hiring process, but this should not be at the expense of overlooking someone who may be better qualified – in terms of attitude, ambition, demonstrated behaviours and competency – for the job you need done.

So how do we ensure we’re staying off the slippery slope of emotional hiring? The best way to do this, and do this we must in order to make a well-informed hiring decision, involves following a set evaluation process. Doing that isn’t rocket science, but it does take self-control and discipline.

#1 Start with clearly defined performance benchmarks.

What are the specific deliverables you expect to see, and over what period of time, from the person you hire?

An increase in new accounts?
Better customer retention strategies?
Faster reporting processes?
Improved morale?
Higher productivity?

#2 Determine the Behaviours & Competencies

Once you have clarified your desired outcomes, you can then determine what doing the job would actually look like in terms of daily activities – the behaviours and competencies – required to get you there. Keep in mind that technical skills and personal attributes are both equally important. Personal skills are transferrable and technical skills are usually more specific. There are a many great assessment tools available to measure competencies and predict behaviours, and we highly recommend them in all our searches. The key is in knowing which competencies are required to do the job you are hiring for.

#3 Evaluate Each Candidate With the Same Yardstick

Knowing the competencies and what the behaviours look like will make it a lot easier for you to design your candidate evaluation spreadsheet or grid, which you can then use to rank and screen each candidate on the basis of their demonstrated competencies, ability to deliver, and how they achieved similar deliverables to the ones you expect, or would plan to achieve them given a similar set of circumstances, in their past or prospective employment.

#4 Tell Them & Tell Them Again

The number one cause of failed relationships, personal and business, is because of unmet expectations. Failing to meet expectations is a direct result of failure to communicate. Active listening during your interview – ie., really hearing what your candidates are saying instead of what we want to hear, and then being very clear about your company’s values, guiding principles and performance expectations is crucial.

Candidates need to know what criteria they are being evaluated on, and what your on-the-job expectations are. Put this in your career ads, job description, and include it in the new hire’s employment contract. Be sure your new hire understands what you expect to see happening in your company as a direct result of their being hired.

When the hiring process involves clearly communicated expectations with all parties, and a process is consistently followed to evaluate candidates based on anticipated outcomes, you are well on your way to hiring right.

Ashton & Associates Recruiting Helping you hire right. Every time.