Increasing Quality Of Hire: 3 Keys To Finding and Hiring the Right Candidates

Bad hires cost organizations significant time and money. Here are three ways to find and hire the right candidates, and increase your quality of hire.

Increasing Quality Of Hire: 3 Keys To Finding and Hiring the Right Candidates

This is an excerpt from our new ebook, “Quality of Hire: 7 Ways to Get the Right Candidates (and Get Them to Stay).” Download a free copy of the full ebook here.

Like all business functions these days, HR departments are now data- and metrics-driven. Hiring teams are measuring their success and optimizing their performance for efficiency — but they may be missing the most critical measure of success: quality of hire.
While time to hire and cost of hire — the more traditional measurements — are certainly useful metrics to track, focusing on improving these variables to the exclusion of quality misses the point: You’re still costing the organization significant time and money if you’re not bringing in high-quality hires. Optimizing the outcome, as opposed to just the process, is really what your team should be most concerned with.
Here are three ways to find and hire the right candidates.

1. Define Success for the Role.

How will you know who the “right” candidate is if you haven’t defined “right”? The very first thing to define when you or your team is tasked with filling a role is what success looks like in this position. This goes beyond outlining responsibilities; you really need to pinpoint the outcomes the hiring manager is looking to achieve in bringing this person onboard. Knowing the ultimate success metrics for this position helps you write a targeted job description, as well as quickly pre-qualify candidates.
And emphasizing outcomes over activities doesn’t just make the job description more targeted — it also makes it more compelling. No candidate — particularly top-tier talent — is intrigued by a list of run-of-the-mill responsibilities. High achievers want to know what big goals they’ll be working toward. They want things to aspire to.
Determine the ideal outcomes of the role, and be sure to include them in the job posting. This is the first step to scoring the right hire.

2. Write Great Job Descriptions.

Getting job descriptions right is absolutely critical to increasing quality of hire. Great job descriptions incorporate what the marketing world calls “the sizzle and the steak.” You want the right mix of detail (steak) and selling points (sizzle) to both accurately describe the role and convey why your organization is a great place to work.
A word of caution: It’s easy to go overboard with either of these, so be careful. You want enough detail to intrigue and inform, but not so much that the job description is miles long. Similarly, you want enough pizzazz to show your brand personality and company culture, but not so much that all the “ping-pong and beers” talk crowds out the specifics on what the company does and what the role entails.
Here are three pointers for writing compelling job descriptions:

  1. Be inspiring: Talk about your company mission, and describe major customer problems you’re solving. Share what employees say when they’re asked, “Why do you enjoy working here?”
  2. Be different: Check out your competitors’ job listings. Do yours sound markedly different? Also, think about why you’re winning in the marketplace — include that! People want to work for smart companies on a path to success.
  3. Be authentic: Try reading the job description you’ve written out loud — would you ever talk like that? Unless it absolutely doesn’t fit your brand, use conversational language and perhaps a more casual tone. You can also try capturing your execs’ own words, as they pitch the company. They often do so in a professional, yet conversational way.

Bundle these elements into a two-paragraph introduction that you use for all job postings. It’ll make a difference.

3. Build a Robust Referral System.

You want to do everything you can to encourage and enable referrals; they’re often great hires. Since referrals come recommended by current employees—people who are already well-versed in company culture—they are much more likely to be a strong culture fit than the average candidate. Referrals tend to perform better and stay longer than the average candidate, too.
Unfortunately, clunky and cumbersome referral processes can sometimes discourage employees from recommending their contacts. Help them help you: Make your referral system painless and rewarding—it will improve speed of hire and cost of hire, too!
A few ideas for bolstering your referral process:

  1. Reward participation: Allow employees to earn “points” for activities like sharing openings via their social media channels, inviting contacts to join your talent community, or submitting a referral. Make the points exchangeable for cash or other prizes.
  2. Keep it fair and organized: A centrally managed program eliminates overhead and confusion, and smart software can even automate rewards. It’s also good to generate a unique tracking link for each referral that follows the person through the system, so the referring employee can earn credit even if the opportunity is forwarded to another department.
  3. Make it fun: Use gamification elements to increase engagement. Highlight hot jobs, and recognize top referrers with leaderboards.
  4. Provide updates: Keep employees excited and tuned-in by regularly updating them on their referrals’ progress through the process. Don’t let referrals fall into the dreaded “black hole.”


We’ve got even more tips for finding and hiring the right candidates, and increasing your quality of hire. Want all seven? Grab a copy of “Quality of Hire: 7 Ways to Get the Right Candidates (and Get Them to Stay)” today!