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7 Steps To Hire The Best

By Michael Mercer, Ph.D.


You can use this step-by-step method to hire applicants who are likely to be “superstar” employees:

-  highly productive

-  low-turnover


Important:  Focus on hiring applicants you rate positively on all seven prediction methods.



1st Prediction Method = Brief Initial Screening Interview


If an applicant’s application looks suitable, then conduct BISI, a customized 15-30 minute over-phone or in-person interview.  BISI quickly reveals if an applicant has biographical data similar to your company’s “superstar” employees. 


For example, at one company, we discovered “superstar” Sales Reps had many similarities before working for this company:

·          Work:  (a) 1 or 2 previous sales jobs, (b) only 1 or 2 jobs before applying at the company, and (c) kept prior jobs 2 – 5 years

·          Education:  (a) earned B.A. from state universities, (b) majored in business or liberal arts, (c) worked part-time throughout college, and (d) college jobs entailed a lot of people contact

·          Pay:  Earned less than likely first year compensation at this company

·          Vocal Style:  Exuded high energy


So, this company’s BISI screened-in applicants with similar work, education, pay, and vocal style – and screened-out other applicants.



2nd Prediction Method = Customized Pre-employment Tests


If the applicant did well on 1st Prediction Method – BISI, then you can have applicant take customized pre-employment tests.  Use tests specifically designed to screen applicants and predict:

A.  Work Behavior – e.g., interpersonal skills, personality, and motivations

B.  Mental Abilities – e.g., problem-solving, vocabulary, math, grammar, and small detail abilities


Importantly, the test must use customized “benchmark scores” based on scores of your “superstar” employees.  With customized “benchmark scores,” you quickly see if an applicant scored similar to your company’s “superstar” employees.



3rd Prediction Method = In-Depth Interview Using Customized Interview Guide Form


If you decide the applicant did fine on 1st and 2nd Prediction Methods, then you may conduct an In-Depth Interview.  Crucial:  Create a customized Interview Guide document for each job, including (a) 6 – 9 key “make-or-brake” job talents, (b) questions to ask, (c) note-taking, and (d) ratings. 


Importantly, you must provide seminar training to teach managers how to use your customized Interview Guides to assess applicants.  Without superb training, interviewers fail to hire the best.



4th Prediction Method = Role-Play


If the applicant did well on 3rd Prediction Method, then have applicant do Role-Play immediately after In-Depth Interview.  The 15 – 30 minute role-play lets you see if the applicant has critical job skills.  For example, have a Sales Rep applicant role-play selling.  Then, assess the applicant using a customized Role-Play Rating Checklist.



5th Prediction Method = Realistic Job Preview


If you decide applicant did well on 1st – 4th Prediction Methods, then do Realistic Job Preview:  For RJP, the applicant spends ½ - 1 day watching an employee doing the job.  Benefit:  Applicants who received RJP are less likely to (a) accept job offer – but, if they accept, (b) turnover.  Reason: The RJP assures they know what they are getting themselves into!



6th Prediction Method = 1 Executive Must Approve All Hiring


If the applicant did well on 1st – 5th Prediction Methods, then one executive at your company reviews Applicant Rating Summary Form.  Your company’s quick Applicant Summary Rating Form

·          summarizes ratings – positive, average, or negative – on 1st – 5th Prediction Methods

·          “forces” managers to actually use your structured hiring steps


Important:  If the applicant’s ratings on 1st – 5th Prediction Methods include

+ all positive ratings, then executive may approve hiring applicant

- average or negative ratings, then the executive may not allow applicant to be hired



7th Prediction Method = Reference Checks


If your company decides the applicant did well on 1st – 6th Prediction Methods – plus accepts job offer – then you conduct Reference Checks.  If they prove

+ positive, then your company keeps applicant as an employee

-  negative, then you take appropriate action


How Much Time Do You Need to Hire the Best?


Many managers moan they are time-crunched, and ask how much time these seven steps require.  Two answers:

1.  If an applicant does well on 1st – 7th Prediction Methods, then you invested 2 – 3 hours to hire the best

2.  Ask yourself:  How much time – and money – did you waste when you hired average or below-average applicants?  You wasted many hours – plus salary, benefits and low productivity– because you failed to invest only 2 – 3 hours to hire the best!




© Copyright 2005 Michael Mercer, Ph.D.


Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is America’s Hire the Best Expert™.  Dr. Mercer authored five books, including “Hire the Best -- & Avoid the Rest™”.  Many companies rely on his pre-employment test – “Abilities & Behavior Forecaster™ Test” – to help hire the best.  You can subscribe to his free e-Newsletter at or call him at (847) 382-0690.