These Two Businesses Have Mastered Talent Selection. Here’s How They Do It

Beth Miller |

Selecting the right person from among many other candidates is not an easy thing to do. But it is very important to do it well.

“The hard truth is that we need to recognize that nothing, nothing, is as important as hiring the right people,” Adam Hanft, a brand strategist, wrote for Inc.com.

Talent selection is an often overlooked and rushed part of talent management. But, if you look at the research, you’ll realize that successful companies pay a great deal of attention to how they choose new hires.

The following best practices can be useful at your organization, but remember: the right talent selection strategy is tailored to fit each company.

Case Study #1: Best practices of a business that developed an elaborate system for selecting quality employees

The talent selection system at Select Comfort Corp., as explored by Inc. Magazine, is more involved than many companies require, yet it offers lessons for any organization.

  • Never stop looking for talent. The CEO made sure that recruiting and hiring programs became ingrained in the corporate culture. “A mistake on the people side of the equation is more critical than any financial mistake,” he said.
  • Move to where the talent is. When the company was considering moving its plant, the senior vice president of operations looked for a location that would provide both strategic distribution advantages and a plentiful supply of skilled labor. This gave them better people to select from. Of course, not every business is able to move, but it is something to consider for the future.
  • Use a training program. Their program gave leaders the opportunity to identify people who could work at the plant.
  • Look for people with desired attitudes. Skills can be taught; attitudes are much harder to change.
  • Hire from your customers. Select Comfort sent postcards to members who had spent a certain amount on their products. They believed that if they had converts to what they were doing, they could train theses loyal customers to sell the product.
  • Find good people in the field. The regional and area managers scoped out employees at other high-end retail establishments, which allowed them to view people in action.
  • Keep track of what works. The company keeps track of its best-performing employees and tries to isolate what makes them successful. They then use this information when hiring.

Case Study #2: Best practices of a business that developed a methodical talent selection process

The Taylor Group, also explored by Inc. Magazine, selects talent in a way that weeds out those who aren’t positively smitten with the company and reduces the chances of a cultural mismatch.

  • Develop a systematic and deliberate interviewing process. Each interview probes a different aspect of the candidate. They use preliminary email questions and a phone interview to weed out mismatches as soon as possible.
  • Choose employees that align with your mission and values. The email questions help determine this. One question they use is: What are your three top criteria when deciding among job positions?
  • Keep detailed notes during the hiring process. Notes are recorded during the phone interview, which inform the next interviewer about potential weaknesses in the candidate, so the interviewer can further explore areas of concern.
  • Use skill tests. Leaders give on-the-spot tests to measure basic skills, performance under pressure and beyond. For example, sales candidates do mock presentations—without preparation—on why a business should choose a particular software.

3 other talent selection best practices

Aerotek, a leader in the recruiting and staffing industry, and the Human Capital Institute conducted research about talent selection. Among other findings, they identified three aspects of organizations with great talent.

  1. Operating procedures that go beyond a basic checklist of pre-assessment activities.
  2. Allocating the time and resources to fully define positions, including sought-after skills.
  3. Considering the culture of the department and the fit of the potential employee.

Which of these best practices do you plan on incorporating into your selection process?  

Photo Credit: Flickr user meddygarnet

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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