Ask an Expert – Creating a “Hiring model”

Stephanie asked-

“I need to hire for a new retail venture in 2016.  When I heard you speak, you referred to a “Model” to use when recruiting.  Where can I find those?”

The “model” needs to be created by you specifically for a position or department.  It is a fairly easy process to develop and one that will pay off in the long run.  It helps build a sustainable workforce well suited to help generate revenue.    A hiring model captures the key strengths and attitudes (skills, personality, work experience and even core values) of an ideal candidate for a particular position.  Stephanie you need to literally make a list ahead of time of what will be needed by a candidate to succeed at this job in your environment.  You can then formulate questions for you or your team (open ended ofcourse) to ask during the interview or simply use the “model” as a litmus test when reviewing a candidate.

Let me break these areas down further and show you how I have used them on Hiring Models and or looked for them during Interviews.  Be sure to read my 3 tips at the end!


Hiring Model -really look at what is needed to get the job done proficiently.  Skills simply illustrate someones capabilities and knowledge base.  If you need a person to be extremely detailed, don’t just look for that skill listed in their work experiences, look for it IN the person.

Examples (customer service, computers, time management, organizational, communication, detailed, analytical, etc)

Interview – perhaps their work isn’t a great example of what they can provide. Lets say they also volunteer and run large events for a charity or church, that takes a lot of organization, attention to detail and coordinating,  so they may very well be capable of performing what you need.  That person may have not brought this experience up because it didn’t seem relevant to the job to them or they thought bringing up religion opened the wrong door.    So listen to what they offer in “icebreaker” questions, because you often get great information you can follow up on.  Asking someone to “tell me about yourself” can provide you very useful information that is technically unsolicited (which protects the interviewer).  People often have many skills that may not be used in past work experiences but may help your business.  You challenge in the interview is to find them!

-The better you know what it takes to complete a given job, and the better you can break it down to a set of skills, the higher the chances of finding someone who can excel at their job.

Personality & Attitude-

Hiring Model  – culture is important and culture isn’t found in your book of Policies and Procedures, it is found in the heart of the business on a daily basis.  Personalities help drive your culture and diverse personalities can either strengthen or break down the teams dynamic.  Personalities and attitudes are an important part of your businesses ability to generate revenue.   We have all been on those teams where either someone else on it became our best friend or we found a person that we couldn’t stand and made us want to leave the job .  So how does it fit in the Hiring Model?  Well if you are adding to an existing team,  you need to have an understanding of the interpersonal dynamics on your team.  What type of person do they want to work with?  While it has nothing to do with completing the job, it has a lot to do with how comfortable that person will be with the existing group of workers.  If the person is uncomfortable or makes others uncomfortable, quality and productivity may go down and turnover may go up.  I am not suggesting clones, but similar or complementing styles.  Building a new team for a new venture like Stephanie mentioned is a great time to build a synergistic team because you are hiring everyone at the same time.   Read a case study where this had a huge impact.

Interview – One great way to assess this is to have a “key” employee(s) interview the candidate also.  If all parties think they can work with this person,  you can feel much more comfortable with the “fit”.  Lastly, as a manager you do not manage peoples personalities you manage or correct their behaviors.   You only get one chance to make a decision based on someones personality and that is in the Hiring process.  Terminating based on personality can get a business owner into legal hot water.

Work Experience

Hiring Model  this one really depends on what job you need filled.  Regulatory or certified level employee’s need a certain level of experience to show they can perform and are competent.   But for most positions, if you focus on a candidates experience you are really focusing on the level of training the past job(s) provided this person and the management staff of each location.  I have seen people work their way through levels of management that weren’t really qualified to even be a supervisor on my team.  Titles are nice but don’t hire primarily on the titles someone has attained.  Many hiring managers falsely assume that experience implies competence.  Competency is what you really need to look for in this category.  In forming your Hiring Mode think about two things;

  1. What do you need this person to be competent at?  Which of the skills you listed will this person need to use most frequently?  Pick the top 2 or 3 and focus on those.
  2. think of the Top companies you may want to see candidates from, or key positions that are similar to what you have available.  You will find particular companies that share Hiring, Training & Development styles with your company, and those typically provide good candidates.


Interview – Form questions around how they got those jobs, what they felt they learned while doing them, and how those experiences help them be a better employee today.  Quiz them a little in areas they need to know to do this job to help gauge competency.  Usually in this area you can also get a good sense of what they are like to work with by asking questions around co workers or how they responded to a supervisors feedback.

When assessing professional experiences I always look for progression.  Do they aspire to move up the ladder?  or are they comfortable doing the same thing day in and day out?It is important to match this to your position yet ambition is important to a degree in all candidates because you need your new hire to have ambition in there new position.  Do they seek resources when faced with a challenge or take an easy way out like “just do as I am told” or my favorite “not my job”.  Clearly you need to insure their level of ambition is realistic also, someone who thinks they will be promoted next month may not be what you need!  History WILL repeat itself here I promise.

I strongly recommend questioning about jobs they have had that may not even be pertinent to what you want this person to do.  Ask “how they achieved, why they wanted that, what did they take away from it” and you may be very surprised in what you find.  But do not disqualify someone just because of certian job experiences, this can be a huge mistake for an interviewer.  Sometimes great people have to accept jobs at mediocre companies and often large companies hire and promote people for the wrong reasons, it is just to hard to tell which it is on an application you are looking at.

Lastly, consider how long it may take in the positions listed from a candidate to be competent and what the persons next roll was.  Ultimately think of what accomplishments you would like your candidate to have as it relates to there Work Experiences as a gauge.


Hiring Model probably the single most important part of a Hiring model in my opinion.  What are the core values of your company ?  Core values should be a guiding force behind all hiring and firing in your company.  You may have 3 or 15 of these, figuring our which ones may be most beneficial to the position you are hiring for can help build a great  Hiring model.

Some examples of commonly found “Core Values”.

  •  If hiring for a service based position, you may want a person to exhibit “Loyalty” or “Passion to serve others”.
  • Someone who will be working with the public and excepting cash needs to be “Customer Focused” yet firm enough  to “Protect company interests” in the event of a small confrontation.
  • Someone in sales needs to demonstrate “Patience” yet assertive and “Willingness to listen” is critical to close a sale.

If you don’t have these printed on your wall somewhere, jot down single words or small phrases ahead of time to help you keep focused during an interview and give others a better idea of what type of person you are looking for.  Another method that works is to have a tick sheet with you when you interview.  Have all the Core Values as column headers.  Every time you feel someone exhibited that value in your interview(s), mark it down to review later.   Get people talking and telling stories about work, school, or even volunteer work  and you will probably find common links.  The more you hear a particular value the more genuine it usually is.

3 tips on matching your model employee to candidates

  1. Sometimes the best employees are the ones with little “work experience” and huge similarities with the values, personality, and attitude you need in this position.  
  2. Skills can be taught, and I would rather teach someone how to do it then someone else doing it.
  3. Training on Values, Attitude, and Personality won’t happen.  People generally don’t learn these, they only conform to company policy.  Having a natural fit will benefit the workplace greatly.  Assuming you have the means (time, resources, systems, etc) to provide skills train, this can help you build a sustainable workforce the helps generate revenue for your business.




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