Hiring the wrong person for a job is one of the costliest mistakes an employer can make.  In this vastly competitive talent war environment we are experiencing today, it is important not only to enhance your selection process, but also its expediency.  Otherwise, many will jeopardize the opportunity to secure their first choice.  Thinking through the points below prior to starting your search should help ensure a more thorough and expeditious process.

5 basic steps to improve your selection process

1. Define the job clearly and precisely.

Describe the six or seven most crucial tasks of the job, and write your job description down with specifics about these essential tasks. If the employee who currently holds the position is available, get their input. If not, ask others in the department to weigh in. No one knows better what an employee does than his/her team members. Also, decide how well the tasks must be performed. What level of performance do you expect — entry-level, average or advanced?

2. Identify your selection criteria.

What skills are needed to carry out these essential job tasks? What knowledge is needed? What personal characteristics? Ideally, ask someone who performs the job to help you determine the essential job tasks and the essential skills required. Perhaps the person leaving the job can help, or even someone doing the same job at another company.

3. Assess your candidates according to the criteria you have defined.

Plan ahead with a set of questions you’ll use before you begin interviewing or checking references. Have your list of essential job tasks and selection criteria prepared. To make the interview more helpful, use a planned structure, with the same interview questions to ask each applicant. To increase objectivity, have someone else whose judgment you respect also interview the candidates. Requesting samples of the candidate’s work or asking the candidate to perform a task simulating the job is a highly predictive assessment method.

4. Obtain more information from your reference checks by asking previous employers and supervisors questions that cannot simply be answered “yes” or “no.”

For example, ask “What advice would you give me in hiring this candidate?” rather than “Would you hire this person again?”

Questions like this will create a dialogue with the employer. Encourage them to talk about the candidate’s behavior as a team member. Reference checks help to ensure all the information on the candidate’s resume is accurate, including their past job position, total experience, previous salary and job skills.

5. Ask yourself and those helping you in the selection process: “If this person didn’t work out, what would be the most likely reason?” and “Could I live with that?”

This will reveal your doubts and concerns. For example, you may feel that problems with this candidate could be corrected with a little more training. But if you answer something like, no, this person might be difficult to supervise — do more assessment before you hire.

Selecting the right employee is the first step in mitigating turnover. Do you know what you really need for the role to be successful? As a manager, it is important to identify the TRUE duties of this position so you can recruit individuals with the right skills.

By taking the time to go through this process, not only will you be able to clearly describe to interviewees what the position will entail, but team members will be happy with someone new that truly aligns with the expected functions of the job.