Hire the Right People: Eight Tips

In a tough marketplace defined by intense competition and razor-thin margins, your people are everything.

January 1, 2007

In a tough marketplace defined by intense competition and razor-thin margins, your people are everything. After all, competitors can steal your ideas, copy your products, and go after your members, but they can't replicate the people who make your credit union work.

Your employees are the innovators who come up with the next big idea that keeps your credit union a step ahead of the rest. That's why it's so critical to hire the right people, says Ruth Haag, author of "Hiring and Firing: Book Three," the third book in a four-part series entitled, "Taming Your Inner Supervisor."

Haag advises employers to follow two main principles:

  • Realize you can't identify the right person, but you can screen out the wrong person; and
  • Low performers can destroy your culture and, ultimately, your company.

"Hiring and Firing" offers the following tips to help you navigate the hiring process and find better employees:

1. Set clear hiring goals. Before placing a want ad or conducting the first interview, know exactly what you want in a new employee, both experience and work ethic. Goals will help you week out those who don't fit your credit union.

2. Hire only after conducting a thorough interview. Interviews let you assess whether candidates lack skills, knowledge, and attitude necessary to perform the job. Don't hire everyone and let the training sort them out.

3. Ask the right questions. Learn all you can about the person's training, job experience, and work ethic. Keep the person's personal life out of the interview. Explain what you want out of the person you hire and let the interviewee decide whether his or her personal life will accommodate that.

4. Read the resume. Look for red flags, such as gaps in employment, job hopping, or inappropriate presentation.

5. Don't make it seem like a candidate already has the job. Inexperienced interviewers may commit this sin out of nervousness, or experienced interviewers may jump the gun because they like a certain candidate. Tell the candidate you'll call in a few days so you have time to think about your options.

6. Ask about a candidate's past work experiences. Listen closely to what the person says. You might discover that some claims don't add up.

7. Don't base your hiring decision on a reference check. Most references aren't completely forthright.

8. Beware too much concern about money. This may carry over into the job. Look for people who are enthusiastic about what they bring to the table and about professional growth.