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The First 30 Minutes: A Three-Part Guide to Hiring The Right Employee

Finding great employees can be more challenging than some managers realize. Often without realizing it, interviewers base their choices on initial first impressions, which can be dangerously inaccurate in a face-to-face interview situation. Professionals choose a person based on charisma and confidence and potentially disregard someone who might simply be nervous in interviews.

Lou Adler, author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired, recently described a three-part method for finding the best candidate possible. This method puts three major rules in place for hiring.

Rule One: Suspend Judgment for At Least 30 Minutes

In the first 30 minutes, a person's behavior could lead an interviewer to make an uninformed decision. The rest of the interview is then spent looking for reasons to support hiring or not hiring the person based on that initial impression. Adler recommends instead making a commitment to withhold judgment for the first 30 minutes of every interview. Interviewers should instead take that time to gather evidence of exceptional performance without making any decisions.

Rule Two: Probe for an "Achiever Pattern"

The goal for an interviewer is to find a candidate who is within the top 25 percent of his or her peer group. Adler lists a few telltale signs that a candidate is a true achiever:

  • Each job change was made to move the candidate upward in his or her career.
  • The candidate consistently took on responsibilities that were above his/her level of experience.
  • The candidate has a demonstrated history of volunteering for assignments that led to growth.
  • Early in his/her career, the candidate was regularly exposed to senior-level executives.
  • The candidate was placed on high-profile assignments in multi-functional project teams.
  • Supervisors often promoted the candidate ahead of his/her peers.
  • The candidate has received industry recognition in the form of awards, honors, and the like.

Rule Three: Rank Candidates Based on the Information Gathered

Adler stresses the importance of ranking candidates, with interviewers eliminating all applicants who don't rank a Level 3 or higher. While it's easy to spot a Level 1, Adler says Level 2s can be trickier, since they often possess all the skills but lack the motivation. While not all positions can employ Level 5s ("rock stars"), Level 3s and above fall in the top 25 percent of their peer group.

Through following Adler's three-step method, those responsible for hiring in an organization can find the best candidate. Since people are the lifeblood of any organization, finding achievers is key to helping a business grow.