Improving Hires in Two Easy Steps

Today we have a guest post from Mary Ila Ward, a local HR/OD ninja. Enjoy!

Put first things first:  2 Steps to Improve Hiring

Ben had a great post this week about defining corporate culture.   Incorporating corporate values and culture is so important in making hiring decisions. I'm currently helping a client review and revise their selection procedures.  One of the things that I've noticed in helping them is that their job dimensions, and therefore the criteria they use to select people, have never been connected to their corporate values.

Any time I engage in a client project, I seek to link what we are doing with their strategic mission and values, so it was imperative for us to help them link job dimensions to value dimensions.  Here's how you do it…

2 Steps to Improve Your Hiring Process:

  1. Know what the job requires and what tasks are involved for the job.   In HR or I/O speak, do a job analysis. I know this sounds like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many companies have position descriptions, but do not review them regularly and do not analyze the job to make sure what they are requiring is even accurate.  This requires an actual observation of someone doing the job.

I advocate, like Ben does, picking a superstar and documenting key characteristics they exhibit as well as the skills they have that make them a superstar.  However, I've found a lot of value in looking at a low (you're just about to show them the door type) performer and an average performer for comparison purposes.  This has really helped me define several key dimensions.

 An Example

With this client, I saw a huge contrast in the way the low and high performer handled complex, stressful issues.   The high performer had a sense of urgency, but a sense of calmness with that urgency in fixing the problems.   The calmness came in rationally deciding what caused the problem, which aided in fixing it so that it wouldn't happen again. The low perform, on the other hand, exhibited almost neurosis panic when something went wrong.  He had a sense of urgency, but combined with the panic, it made things completely worse instead of better.  He could not tell you why the problem happened, and did not want to understand what caused it.  You can see how this dimension could be defined more accurately than just a sense of urgency in order to make a wise hiring decision.


  1. Match job requirements to corporate values or culture.  If you haven't defined your corporate values or culture, then follow Ben's step to do so this week.  If you already have, examine your job requirements against your values.   By and large, your job requirements should be an easy match to value dimensions.  If they aren't, you may need to add more values or eliminate selection requirements from your list.

 An Example

One corporate value my client has defined is “Courage”.  This value is defined in several ways, but one thing that sticks out to me in this definition is “be responsive and flexible”, and “do the right thing”.   Another is “Ownership” defined as “be proud of your work”, “be responsible for your actions,” “operate with a ‘can do' attitude”.  I love this value!  You can see how we defined the job dimension described above to tie to these values:

  • Ability to alter one's behavior in a calm manner in order to respond to unforeseen problems (courage).
  • Desire to understand why equipment or machinery has caused manufacturing issues and the ability to respond appropriately in a prompt manner (ownership).

What job requirements do you have that are tied to your corporate values or culture?

mary ila wardAbout Horizon Point Consulting, Inc.: Horizon Point Consulting, Incorporated’s mission is to provide career, leadership and workforce coaching and consulting that leads to a passionate and productive workforce.

Mary Ila's passion is helping others create and maintain passion in the workplace.   To learn more, visit the company's website at: or connect with her on LinkedIn.

2 thoughts on “Improving Hires in Two Easy Steps

  1. Josh Tolan

    Great post! Making sure your job descriptions align with necessary skills and cultural fit is essential. Like in the examples used, you don't want a panicky employee who cannot accept ownership of their actions. Knowing what you're looking for in your ideal employee and incorporating it into your job descriptions will help you in the interview process as well. Then whether you're talking to a candidate in person or through online video, you'll have a better idea if the job seeker is right for your position.

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