Strategies for Hiring Winners: Executive Summary

L. John Mason

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Would you like to avoid hiring mistakes, if possible? The following are tips from executives interviewed especially for this article.

The secret to hiring “winners" is: Know the job and your company's culture, then find the correct person to fill the job.

Hiring mistakes are very costly. Estimates range from 1-10 times the annual salaries, with the general consensus being 3 times the annual salary. This is based on recruiting and training the wrong candidate (the mistake), waiting for the productivity that does not come, removing the person, dealing with morale and sabotage, replacing and training the next candidate. If you have an engineer or mid-level manager that earns $80,000 - $100,000 this can be a cost to your company of $240,000 to $300,000 for just one mistake!

90% of all hiring decisions are made by an interview. Interviewing is 14% accurate according to Michigan State University. This percentage can increase if you have hiring managers that are really well trained or if their intuition is very well developed. The training for interviewers must be extensive because as Victoria Perrault, VP of AFC says, there are “obvious problems" when the hiring interviews are a “fly by the seat of your pants" experience. She is leading AFC into a “Success Profile" approach to benchmark the critical success factors. Yvonne Myers, Director of HR at Legacy Marketing group (a 540 person insurance sales & marketing business), has found results to be “dead on" for their E. Q. I. Profile which creates a “footprint" (benchmark) which helps develop specific interview questions that determine the soft-skill competencies of their candidates for job success. These insure that the candidates will be the “right fit" for their organization.

More companies are assessing the competencies necessary for specific jobs within their specific cultures. Some companies are benchmarking their personnel and selecting the top performers and comparing assessment results with their poorest performers to discover the patterns of success that are required for top production and satisfaction on the job. More fortune 500 companies report that they are using assessments, which is up from 15% in 1985 to 30% in 1996 and expected to hit over 50% by 2002.

The assessments are also used for staff development, planning training, and to aid managers finding the ideal motivation for specific staff members.

Kent Sherwood, CEO of Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, emphasized the need for “integrity" as the highest quality for leadership candidates. He also looks for honesty, reliability, follow through, and straight talking. Good candidates must have the skill set necessary or have the “inclination to learn in a reasonable time" with the appropriate personality to blend with the existing culture.

Fred Philpott, VP of Human Resources for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, uses a model to check for winning characteristics which include:
A. ) Technical/experience
B. ) Behavior: drive, urgency, ethics, Integrity, open communication, business acumen, global-strategic thinking, teaming-partnering, consensus, quick decisions,
C. ) Bottomline ability to influence and persuade

Two of three companies either use recruiters or have used recruiters to get qualified candidates to interview. The other companies rely on internal referral and developing leaders from within the organization (which is a great retention strategy. )

Hiring Winners Checklist:
1. Know the job - skills, experience, soft-skills, competencies. Develop clear expectations.
2. Know your company's culture (Mission, Vision, Values)
3. Benchmark your top and bottom performers (assess the styles, behaviors and attitudes of your winners!)
4. Develop your interview process to adequately assess candidates’ necessary soft-skills
5. Hire the Right People for the Right Job!
6. Support and develop your key talent. Get them to love your company!
7. Continuously re-assess your hiring process.

W. Edwards Deming said, “If a person is not performing as expected, it is probably because they have been miscast for the job. "

Special thanks to all the business leaders who contributed their business wisdom and experience including (in order of interview dates):
Kent Sherwood, CEO of Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa
Deborah Meekins, President and CEO of Sonoma National Bank
Greg Peters, President and CEO of Mahi Networks
Victoria Perrault, VP of Administrative Services of AFC
Seritta White, CEO of S. K. White Consulting
Fred Philpott, VP of Human Resources of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates
Rob Thorson, Manager of Human Resources of Westamerica Bank
Shirley Gordon, VP for Northern California of State Farm Insurance
Yvonne Myers, Director of Human Resources of Legacy Marketing Group
Martin Grove, District Manager of State Compensation Insurance Fund
Paul Herrerias, CEO of Herrerias & Associates

This executive summary is based on interviews and research conducted by L. John Mason, Ph. D. of the Stress Education Center.

For a detailed report on the Hiring Winners and Retaining Key Personnel please contact Dr. Mason at or (707) 795-2228. Ask about a proposal for benchmarking your top performers with special assessments that are designed to help you match their behaviorals and attitudes with potential new hires.

L. John Mason, Ph. D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction. " Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center's website at for articles, free ezine signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (707) 795-2228.

If you are looking to promote your training or coaching career, please investigate the Professional Stress Management Training and Certification Program for a secondary source of income or as career path.


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