Hiring a new staff person can be a challenge. But hiring the right person for the job has the ability to strengthen your team and take your practice to the next level.
With so much at stake, how do you go about finding your next “star” employee? The following hiring criteria and data-gathering techniques can help in the decision-making process—building your practice’s success, one team member at a time.
Top 10 Hiring Criteria
Before interviewing potential employees, determine the skill set of your “ideal” candidate. Then, use these criteria (e.g., experience, education, and minimum licensing standards) to refine the candidate pool and evaluate candidates. Here are 10 criteria you might consider as you navigate the hiring process:
1) Education. Does the applicant have the necessary education level, industry knowledge, licenses, designations, and/or training?
2) Work experience. Experience includes knowledge based on prior employment and transferable skills. It’s a valuable indicator of how long it will take an applicant to hit the ground running.
3) Technical qualifications/experience. Consider what technology your ideal candidate will have to use on a day-to-day basis. This might include Windows-based programs, such as Word and Excel, and other software, such as Morningstar® Advisor WorkstationSM.
4) Verbal communication. Be aware of how the applicants present themselves:
- Are they clear and concise?
- Would they be able to communicate with clients and employees at all levels?
5) Enthusiasm. Is the individual highly motivated? This can be evaluated in both your phone conversations with the candidate and the in-person interviews.
6) Culture. Do you think the applicant will work well on your team? Will he or she fit in with your clients and other employees in the firm?
7) Initiative. Do you think the applicant will seek new ways to contribute to his or her success? For instance, has this person shown initiative and assumed responsibility for tasks not directly assigned to him or her?
8) Time management. Do you believe the applicant can handle multiple tasks? Will he or she be able to complete tasks in a timely manner?
9) Client service. Do you think the applicant will deliver the service your clients expect? Will the applicant be responsive?
10) Salary expectations. Based on your firm's overhead, determine the salary you can afford to pay. Then, evaluate the salary range your applicant seeks and decide if it’s competitive for the position. Remember, total compensation can include:
Once you know how to evaluate your ideal candidate, the following techniques can be used to gather data on prospective employees:
Phone interview. Before scheduling the in-person interview, a prescreen phone call can be a time saver. During this brief call, ask a consistent set of general questions (i.e., the same questions for each candidate), such as:
- What about the position interests you?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What challenges might this role present for you?
Because you’ll likely be interviewing multiple candidates, jot down the responses on each person’s résumé, which will help you distinguish candidates when you revisit your notes. Also, be aware of the candidate's phone manner; this will give you an idea of how he or she might represent your firm as the first line of contact.
In-person interview. Ask each interviewee to fill out an application, requiring information such as references and salary history. It’s also an opportunity to gather the objective data—professional experience, education, and internal behavioral traits—you’ll need in making your hiring decision.
Predictive Index (PI). After identifying a candidate you’re seriously considering, ask him or her to take the PI survey. This tool provides information about a person’s motivational factors and behavioral traits. It takes about 10 minutes and automatically generates a summary report. You can then use these results to determine the fit between a candidate and the position.
Reference check. The goal of the reference check is to obtain reliable and accurate job performance information about prospective employees. Try to speak with at least two references, one of whom was/is a direct supervisor of the prospective employee.
Gather the facts:
- When was the candidate employed?
- What was the candidate's title? Responsibilities?
- What is your relationship to the candidate (peer, subordinate, superior)?
- How long have you known the candidate?
Focus on job performance (choose six to seven questions):
- How would you describe the quality of the candidate's work?
- What are the candidate's strengths? Weaknesses?
- Do you think the candidate contributed to your company/department?
- How would you describe the candidate's communication skills?
- How does the candidate handle pressure/deadlines?
- Does the candidate get along with coworkers? With managers?
- Does the candidate supervise others? What is his or her management style?
- How does the candidate handle conflict?
- Do you think he or she would be a good fit in this position?
- How ambitious is this candidate?
Get to the bottom line:
- Why did the candidate leave your company?
- Would you rehire this person?
- Do you recommend this candidate?
- Did the candidate have any problems we should be aware of?
Hire a Star
A wise person once said, "When picking a team, choose the best people if you want to win." Using the process outlined here, you’ll be on the path to hiring a star, not just an employee. The best candidate is a person who will be satisfied in the job—and a satisfied employee will be more likely to stay with your practice longer and to have a hand in helping it grow.
Angela Sarver is manager, practice management, at Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC, an independent broker/dealer–RIA.