How to Hire GREAT people

hiring great people – Long BUT massively value packed post.


Hiring is probably one of the most important areas for any business owner and while most may know that, it is usually a task that has the most disproportionate amount of time allocated to it. As owners we tend to focus on the things that give us more tangible immediate results like making sales, solving crises, responding to customers  etc. And if asked “how important are your people?” we answer with a resounding ‘critical’ yet for most of us, we don’t invest the necessary time to get the right people.

This post is going to outline all you need to know to get the right people on board. And I will preface that while what we’ve laid out below has worked many many times with consistently impressive results, the systems and processes YOU use, must be a match and fit for your company. I will give you the framework, you need to modify it to fit your needs.

Now, given the amount of time most of you are currently investing in hiring, what I outline below is going to seem like a lot of work so I need to get you into the right emotional head space so you can see the benefit of doing the work necessary. Consider the following questions:

  • If you had a system for hiring that gave you an 80% success rate and all you had to do was say ‘go’ to make that happen, how would that benefit your company?
  • If you had a team of sales people who continually perform to grow your company, what would that mean to you?
  • What is the true cost to your company for making a bad hire?
    • think actual costs + you and your team’s time (recruiting and training), loss of momentum on projects due to others involved with training or just having  a new (non-fit) member involved. And the list goes on …
  • What is the emotional toll on you and your team of making a bad hire?
  • What would it be like if you had a pool of great candidates to choose from and they were lining up applying to work for you?

Some of those questions may seem a bit ‘oh come on’ and I guess that is one of the key points I want to emphasise. I believe most people don’t give hiring the time it deserves because it is seen as a distraction and pain in the ass. The first stage of hiring GREAT people is to acknowledge that hiring is the absolute foundation to a GREAT company. Your people are your company … so as a leader you need to make finding the right people one of your top priorities. Great People bring Great customer service, they bring Great finance skills, they bring motivation, they bring Great sales skills, they bring Great operational systems and skills and they are Great at working as a team. All these characteristics and skills are what are going to make your company Great.

OK … let’s get into the nuts and bolts.

The Foundation.

Firstly the bad news. While this post outlines a system and process for attracting GREAT people; a process is useless without a great culture. Great people want to work for great companies and great companies have a great cultures. If you want to understand about great cultures, read ‘Delivering Happiness’ by Tony Hsieh or here is great article about adventure company GAP that was featured in Profit Magazine. I’m not going to go on about culture here (that is another massive post topic) but I will say that it is critical. Top performers are attracted to top performance cultures. Your culture will attract those who are a fit for it. Be very intentional about your culture.

Another critical foundational piece is a clear  and compelling vision. Great people want to be part of a company that is going somewhere. To be part of a company that has a purpose and the drive to fulfill it. It is not enough to want to grow, be successful and make money. Your vision, mission or purpose (whatever you want to call it) must be something you truly feel passionate about and it must be something you can communicate well to others. Hiring Great people is like trying to acquire new ideal customers. You need to be able to sell them on the ideal of working with you. There must be an emotional benefit that goes beyond ‘having a job’. If you are hiring people who ‘want a job’ then you are not hiring Great people. And you will never have a Great company.

So we have our 2 key foundation items Culture and Vision (or purpose or Mission or whatever … yes I am a bit cynical about all the terminology. Just show me you have passion about something that is more than yourself). There are many other factors that can affect the success of a new hire but I believe if you have a solid culture, then most of those other things should be in place. An example of what I’m referring to is great managers. If your managers are not able to develop great relationships with those they manage, you will have turnover.

The System.

The key philosophy behind this system is ‘deselection’. What I mean by that is you want to attract as many applicants as possible then allow them to deselect themselves based on the barriers you are going to put in their way. It is also important for your mindset to be one of deselection. You want to feel like you are in the position of ‘if you don’t find the ideal candidate, you will not make a hire’. There is nothing worse than feeling like you HAVE to hire … that is when the big hiring mistakes are made.

If a candidate gets the feeling that you are extremely selective it brings an exclusiveness to the process. Now we don’t do this with a ‘fake it’ type approach. It must be sincere. I truly want you to have a ‘selective’ mentality.

Picture your current team like a finely balanced mix of chemicals that if they were to tip slightly off balance would explode. Your job, as the chemist, is to test all new chemicals (potential hires) you want to add to the existing mixture to make sure they are not going make an explosion. You have to be selective or your business will be blown to pieces. This might be an exaggeration .. but the analogy applies.

The Flow – I’m going to outline the steps involved so you can see where we are headed.

  • Attraction – you will work to attract as many applicants as possible and have them apply by email.
  • Phone Screening – after they apply, you will send them an email  (ideally an auto-responder so you can save time) asking them to call a phone number and answer some questions
  • Short list – from these telephone-message responses you will select a shortlist based on how well they presented on the phone and answered the questions.
  • Test Drive – Now you will send the short list a group of tasks. These tasks are designed to simulate and test the skills required to excel in the job. The tasks should require a significant time investment (3-4 hrs) so you can see how committed people are and test their work ethic.
  • Profiling – After the test drive you should be down to 1 or 2 top candidates. You will get them to complete a profile tool (I use DiSC and Flippen) that will help you guide your questioning in the last stage
  • 1-on-1 Behavioral Interview – In a face to face or Skype meeting, you will interview the candidate and make your final assessment.

Step 1 – Your Ideal Candidate

Define your Ideal Candidate. Download our Ideal Candidate form to help you here. This step might seem quite straight forward but the more detail you can define, the more chance you have of finding the ideal person. There is an attraction process that helps here (like in all areas of life). The clearer you are on what you want, the more chance there is of you getting it. The purpose of clearly defining the ideal candidate is for you to get clear + allow you to write the best Ad. Just be mindful that the key attributes you assemble for your ideal candidate are essential for success in that role. (In other words, be sure to steer clear of any prohibited grounds or attributes when selecting your next great team member, and stick to what related work skills they require)

If you aren’t aware of the prohibited grounds, feel free to check out the following resources:




You’ll see an area on the Ideal Profile called DiSC. If you are not familiar with the DiSC behavioral profile tool I’ll be putting a post up about it soon. Sign up to follow my blog and you’ll get the notice when it’s live.

Step 2 – Writing Your Ad

Writing a powerful Ad (like any marketing) is only possible when you know who you are writing it for. Now that you have your ideal candidate your wording must be crafted with that person in mind. Avoid making your Ad generic like all the other ads out there. The ad must speak to your ideal candidate and also represent the culture of your company.

Critical point – you want people to apply by email. It is best to have a dedicated email address that receives the application because you are going to have an auto-responder set up to respond to each application.

Setting up the logistics – as well as having a dedicated email address (e.g. [email protected]) you will need a voice mail box to receive the phone responses. If you have a phone system that can handle that great – if not consider using a Skype (or similar service) virtual number. I’ve also had clients use their mobile phones after hours to receive the phone responses.

Step 3 – Placing Your Ad

In short, you want to place your ad in as many places as possible. The services available to your will depend on your location. Use free sites, paid sites, community channels (notice boards, newsletters etc), social media (yours, your companies, your employees, your friends) and even print classifieds if you think your ideal candidate might look there. You want to give applicants every opportunity to see your ad. Avoid ruling anything out.

Consider using training agencies and recruiters also. Recruiters can be a little tricky as they will want to do the screening and placement for you (for a fee). You don’t want that at this stage. You can however negotiate with some of them to provide candidates to go through your process and if they are successful, a fee be payable. This is not my favourite method but it can work.

Step 4 – The email response.

Once someone applies by email you need to email them back with instructions on what do to next. Use a script similar to this. Include a copy of the position contract/job description for them to review. I’ve had great success with the questions listed on this script but if you want to put your own in, by all means. The goal is so you can get a feel for the persons phone manner (important even if the role they are applying for is not phone based. How they prepare and present for a phone call is how they will prepare and present for everything), their level of preparation, how well they follow instructions, their confidence and their mojo :).

Key point – resist the temptation to read the resumes before you’ve received a phone response from the applicant. Reading resumes takes time and can be meaningless. Resumes are what the candidate wants you to know about them. We’ll get to that. We need to do some screening first so we don’t have to look at as many resumes. Someone who takes the time to prepare and leave a decent message is way better than someone who can’t be bothered but has a kick ass resume.

Step 5 – The Short List

As the phone responses come in, you’ll obviously listen to them and score them. Here’s a scoring sheet you can use. Use these scoring sheets to select your best candidate. Feel free to involve other people in your organization in this part of the process – particularly those who will be working with the new hire. As you review the best responses, now is the time to go back and review their resume.

Step 6 – The Test Drive

Once you’ve got your best candidates, now we need to continue our screening for attitude (work ethic) and skill. Forget what they say they can do, let’s see what they can ACTUALLY do and are WILLNG to do. You need to devise suitable activities that will simulate and test for the key skills and ability you require from the new hire. If they can’t be done remotely (i.e. truck driver) then now is the time to bring them in to do the test on premises. This can also be a good idea even if your skills can be tested remotely. Here’s an example of how I did it when I hired my right hand person Melina.

Video 1 – Introduction

Video 2 – About my company and the role

Video 3 – Test Drive Exercises

Step 7 – Profiling

Before we do a 1-on-1 interview it is extremely helpful to have some more objective insight into the person. Everyone has strengths and everyone has constraints (behavioural tendancies that don’t serve them). We want the scoop on that so we can ask pointed questions and see how they handle.

The two tools I use are DiSC and Flippen. Flippen is by far the better tool and really gives an pin point accurate assessment on a persons abilities. It is not cheap but it is amazing. And given the true costs of a wrong hire, it really is a no-brainer. For an understanding on what Flippen is, take a look at this video I give people to watch before I do their debrief. I only use this video when working with clients (not hiring applicants) but it gives you the low down on Flippen.

DiSC can be helpful also and if you didn’t want to do the Flippen, DiSC is an easy assessment to understand. The weakness of DiSC is the applicant is the only one who takes the assessment so you can get a biased answer. In a Flippen, it is a 360 assessment; another 6 people complete the profile on behalf of the applicant, making it impossible to fudge.

Step 8 – The Interview

OK so we are at the interview stage. We have our final 1 or 2 top applicants, they’ve done some assessments so now we are ready to spend some quality time with them.

Probably the most important thing to remember here is the type of questions you need to ask. You need to ask situational and behavioural type questions vs one-word answer style questions. Any question like “can you do X?” is a waste of time because the candidate usually knows how you want it answers. A better type of question is “Tell me about a time when X happened to you … how did you handle it?”. Here’s a list of questions you can ask. Choose those which are applicable to the job you are hiring for…and look for opportunities to ask follow-up questions if you need more information.

Another great tactic when asking questions is to name drop one of their references/past employers such as – “When I ask (name of past employer) about how you deal with X situations, what will they tell me?” This brings about a level of honesty in the response because they assume you will be checking up on them.

Have a couple of people in the interview so while one person is asking a question, the other can be either listening/observing or picking the next question. It is very hard to capture everything in an interview so having multiple people enables you to discuss after the interview and compare notes. I highly advise having people involved who will actually be working with the person once they are hired. If they buy into the hire, they will be more invested in making them successful.

Another learning I’ve seen time and time again is the benefit of have both male and female on the interviewing team. Different sexes pick up different things. And there is a lot to be said for the female intuition when it comes to reading people.

Step 9 – Reference Checking

While in some countries there are laws prohibiting what can be said during a reference check, I still believe it is a vital step. Even if someone is restricted in what they can tell you, you can tell a lot by how they dance around questions or even their tone and words. Don’t skip it. Anytime I have, I’ve regretted it.


Yes, there is a bit of work to set this all up. But once you’ve done it and run the process a couple of times you’ll experience massive time savings and a much higher success rate. You’ll also learn how you need to tweak the system to improve it for your company.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, successes and challenges with it.

Happy Hiring.

Book Review – The Checklist Manifesto

I’d heard this book referenced many times so it was time to check it out. Here are the highlights. It is a pretty quick read and has some interesting stories. I’d recommend the read.

I found of particular interest, the points that give instruction on how to create effective checklists (points 10 – 15). Enjoy.

  1. There are 2 reason why we fail. The first is because we lack knowledge in a certain area. The second is because we have the knowledge but fail to act (or forget to act)
  2. Human progress has bought a higher level of complexity to what we do. For instance when planes were first invented there were few controls to manage. Now a Boeing 787 has hundreds of controls. The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our ability to delivery it correctly, safely or reliably.
  3. Successful organisations have realized that when they don’t delegate authority, things fail. And to delegate without procedure and structure is a recipe for disaster.
  4. Under conditions of complexity, not only are checklist a help, they are required for success. There must always be room for judgement, but judgement unaided – and even enhanced – by procedure.
  5. Following the recipe is essential to making food of consistent quality over time.
  6. Several studies by the author (a surgeon) revealed the inconsistency of procedures which were believed to be consistent. An example was appendectomy patients of one particular hospital failed to receive the necessary antibiotics over one third of the time. This is a very standard procedure. After the implementation of a simple checklist the results were as follows. After 3 months 89% of patients received the correct dosage at the correct time. And after 10 months 100% was achieved. The author noted the need for the checklist to become habit over time. Don’t expect 100% success the first day you put it in place. It requires work
  7. Sometimes it requires a mix of task and communication checklists. Task checklists on their own can be limiting for more complex scenarios. A communication checklist is more like a prompt to discuss certain issues with a team. I.e. “what are the key issues we see with this project?”
  8. There is a common illusion that a level of training and expertise brings consistency in execution. This overconfidence in ability is a common reason for mistakes. Even the best miss the most basic of steps. This is the exact reason no matter how many times a pilot has flown a plane, before take off, they ALWAYS review the take off checklist.
  9. Much of the following points on ‘how to’ create a checklist came from Daniel Boorman, a veteran pilot working for Boeing and the technical lead for the development of the 787’s pilot controls, displays and system of checklists.
  10. You must define a clear pause point at which the checklist is supposed to be used (unless the moment is obvious like a warning light coming on). You must decide whether you want a DO-CONFIRM checklist or a READ-DO checklist. With a DO-CONFIRM checklist team members perform their jobs from memory and experience. But then they pause and run over the checklist to make sure they captured everything. With a READ-DO checklist, on the other hand, people carry out the tasks as they check them off – it’s more like a recipe.
  11. The checklist cannot be lengthy. A rule of thumb some use is between five and nine items which is the limit of working memory.
  12. If a checklist takes more than 60-90 seconds at a certain pause point, it often becomes a distraction and people start taking shortcuts.
  13. The wording should be simple and exact and use the familiar language of the profession.
  14. Even the look of the checklist matters. Ideally it should fit on one page. It should be free of clutter and unnecessary colour. It should use both upper and lowercase text for ease of reading. A sans serif font like Helvetica is best.
  15. Your checklist must be tested in the real world which is inevitably more complicated than expected. First drafts always fall apart and one needs to study how, make changes and keep testing until the checklist works consistently.

Shaping Self Belief, Building a Better Team and Making Record Profits: An Interview with Nicole Pereira

As a business leader, it is my firm belief that there countless lessons we can learn from other business owners who have traveled the road before us.

Introducing Nicole Pereira.

Nicole is a second generation business owner who owns and manages the Honda Dealership in Cambridge Ontario Canada. I had the privilege of working with Nicole and helping her on her journey and now she shares with us some of the insights she’s collected not just through working with me but throughout her whole business career.

Nicole’s journey is an interesting one. I won’t spoil it here but I suspect many of the challenges she has gone through will resonate with many of you. Particularly those in the next generation seat.

We dive into many areas; her struggle with self belief, her philosophy around team, recruiting and also the dynamics of family business.

I actually did this interview back in March last year and now was the time to share it. Enjoy the discussion.

If you’d like to download the interview (mp3) just save this link.


How to get High Quality Consistent Sales Training for your Team

It has been said there are 3 things that top sales people do consistently. They train, train and train. But as a business owner, how do you provide consistent training that gives you and your team the edge to stay at the forefront?

Well, for starters you can go to seminars, read books or bring trainers in house. All of which work, but organizing them and the associated cost can sometimes be prohibitive.

I’m not going to tell you I have ‘the’ answer but I do believe what I’m about to share with you has a lot of credit.

Enter Jeffrey Gitomer.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Jeffrey, perhaps you haven’t. His style is unique but his results are unquestionable. I’ve been studying his material for many years and have found it to be solid. It resonates with me. Perhaps it will you too.

Anyway … about the sales training. Jeffrey has taken his life’s work (9 books – many best selling), and developed a platform that allows salespeople get get daily doses + more in-depth training on a schedule that suits the individual user. He has hosted it on a state of the art multi-million dollar platform called VT (Virtual Training). It is a interactive web-based  technology that is designed to emulate what happens in a live training environment. It tracks, monitors and measures everything the user does and has built-in real time reporting and notification features. It truly is leading edge.

If you think you and your team could benefit from a skills and attitude steroid shot … this is worth checking out. Below is the link to the technology and you can get a FREE 5-day trial. Check it out and have fun with it – you won’t regret looking it up.

Click Here for Gitomer VT




A Massively Misunderstood Word

When people use the word ‘responsible’ what they usually mean is that someone can be trusted to do the right thing. “Jim is a responsible person” … And that is certainly what I thought I meant … until I had it more clearly defined for me.

My moment of epiphany first came when I saw Jack Canfield speak and he talked about his formula for creating the life outcomes you want. His formula was this:

E + R = O

Where E is the event, R is your response and O is the outcome. What Jack explained is that while we may not always have control over the events in our business and our life, we do always have 100% control over our response, thereby giving us 100% control over our outcomes.

This can seem like common sense when you read it and the truth is most of us (me included) operates more by default and ‘reacts’ vs. intentionally choosing to ‘respond’.

Take this scenario for example: Think of the last time someone cut you off in traffic in an extremely selfish and discourteous way. What was your immediate response?

Did you sit and ponder the situation and ask yourself, now what is the best way to respond here so I get the outcome I want?

Or did you just react?

Be honest, you just reacted right?

The reality is, this is the way most of us live our lives – in all areas – when your spouse gets upset at you, when an employee does not deliver, when you lose a big account, when you win a big account … the list goes on.

So what is the point you ask?

Well, take the scenario above. You may have felt immediately angry, flipped the bird to the other driver, honked your horn and generally got yourself hot under the collar. Once you got to work you may have told others about it and relived the experience over and over. And each time you did, you put yourself into a certain emotional state. And that state produces a certain quality to your actions and influences the results you produced in that moment. Basically how you feel is reflected back to you by the outcomes you produce and in turn witness as reality (another massively misunderstood word).

So the point is this – ‘choosing to respond’ in a way that will put you in the right emotional state massively attributes to the way you feel, the quality of your actions and in turn the quality of your results. And those results become your experience.

What responsibility (response – ability) means in that in every moment you have the ability to respond. It is your choice. While you may blame an event for your outcomes, that is simply not the true cause. It is your response that is the true cause.

We can take this further and apply it to how we shape our world through our perception. Each of us sees the world and the people and events in it through our own filter. That filter gives everything meaning. And that meaning for us becomes our reality.

Now, is it really ‘reality’ if we can make it different by giving it different meaning?

Let’s put it another way. If two people are involved in the same event but each see it differently, which one is ‘reality’? You see, reality is subjective and can be changed.

The best example of this is when people read and interpret email. An email contains some text to which  the reader attaches meaning based on their filters. The meaning they give it may or may not have been what the writer intended but the point is, we are each ‘responsible’ for the meaning we give to people and events.

When we feel stressed, it is not that the situation is in fact stressful, but it is the story we tell ourselves about the event that creates the feeling of stress within us. It is OUR story not the event that causes stress.

This is the essence of responsibility. We are each responsible for the quality of our experience in every way. We have choice in how we respond. Choice in our stories and in our actions.

When you grasp this concept it is truly empowering. It really puts you in the drivers seat not only to be in control of your future outcomes but also to control how you feel in each moment. And at the end of the day, we are all striving for a certain feeling. Everything we do is so we can achieve or move away from a feeling. Knowing we can have the feelings we want at any moment is a great revelation.

Now if only it were that easy. What I’ve written above may be true but that does not make it simple to do. It is a life practice. And the first step is to understand the true meaning and implications of the word ‘responsibility’.

How will you choose to respond today?