business culture

006 - Employing staff – a simple matrix approach


Employing staff is hugely important for your business.

Most of us have conducted interviews and then battled to recall who was who from the meetings held throughout the day. 

It’s also common to suffer from the ‘recency effect’ – whoever we met last receives preferential treatment in our minds when comparing them to other candidates.

The interview we did at 8.30am is now a distant memory; and the interview we just completed was the best candidate by far!

This can happen even if we take detailed notes; and in some cases; these detailed notes can actually muddy our judgement more.

Employ the right staff and your customers will be happy and your profits will head in the right direction.   Get it wrong, and everyone suffers – your customers, your business, your sanity - and the badly placed employee.

Many business owners are bluffed by glowing resumes and letters of recommendation – don’t be one of these.  I find the old saying, “you can teach skills but not attitude”, holds true time after time, so recruit on attitude and you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of success.

Any potential employee comes to you with a set of characteristics – history, experience, training, skills, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and so on.

Many of the deeper personality characteristics are hardwired in childhood, so you as the potential employer 10 or 20 years later, has little chance of changing these.

I’ve found the use of a simple, matrix gives you the best chance of finding the right employee/employer fit during the recruitment process.

This is the process: 

Every role has 5-7 key defining skills, traits and attributes a candidate must have to ensure the best opportunity of a great relationship between the two parties.  Ideally these skills, traits and attributes should come from a Position Description you have for the role.

Lets take an example of a sales person that operates away from the head office location.

Think of all of the qualities you would like in this new employee and list them.   These could be industry knowledge; communication skills, attention to detail, trustworthiness, work ethic, and so on.

Think of as many as you can, and brain-dump them on a page.  Also cross check your list with the Position Description and ensure all-important items are captured.

The items you have listed will be varied – some will be easier to quantify than others. 

It’s generally easy to determine through questioning if a candidate has the right experience; however it's significantly harder to qualify if they are trustworthy, work well with others, diligent, and so on.

These are the attitude or character traits that we are trying to ensure we recruit into our business; without being blinded by what we see in resumes, character references, and application letters.

You know your business better than anyone – what would you like to see the perfect employee do; be; act and say – all day - every day?  Shoot high.

Leave your list for an hour then come back to it.

Now number your list from 1 to however many traits and attributes you have.

Once you have sense-checked your list; captured the most important points; it’s time to drop them into a basic spreadsheet or table.

When you have completed an interview with a candidate, rate that candidate on each of the key criteria you have chosen out of 5.

If you have 5 criteria, each candidate can score a maximum of 25.

Once you have completed all interviews and are approaching making a decision, put the candidates in rank order to allow you to objectively evaluate against one another.

Often you will be able to exclude the last 1-2 candidates, leaving you a choice from the top interviewees, or the option to conduct 2nd interviews.

This is the simplified version of this recruitment/evaluation method, and will satisfy most recruitment processes. 

There is an additional level of evaluation that can be added by ‘weighting’ each trait or attribute if required.

Whilst basic, this matrix approach to comparing interviewees can help you achieve the following:

1.     Identify the traits that are most important to your business

2.     Focus on these traits during the interview process

3.     Avoid the phenomenon of the ‘recency effect’ where we forget the first meetings, and unfairly favour the later ones

4.     The process of identifying traits you are looking to recruit can act as a mini-cultural check of your business

Good luck and recruit well for the benefit of everyone.



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