Healthy hiring requires real facts to choose the right people for your business.

Healthy hiring requires focus. I recently read a health coach’s Facebook post about her early morning grocery shopping trip. She talked about the items in people’s shopping carts and their impact on healthy living — for example, breakfast cereal. That made me think about the health of our hiring practices. You’re probably thinking I’m crazy because choosing cereal has nothing in common with how you hire employees. I’m not crazy, and you’ll be surprised at the similarities.

Like choosing cereal, we often make hiring decisions based on what we see on the package — skills listed on a resume or what we hear on the surface during an interview. Instead, we should be seeking more in depth information about the specific values and behavioral characteristics that make someone a successful employee in our business. This begs the question: “Are we making hiring decisions based on surface information or are we digging into the nutritional (behavioral) values below the surface?”

Froot Loops® and Cheerios both meet your need for a breakfast food. Froot Loops® are attractive and colorful and the front of the box is happy and fun. They give you an immediate boost from their wonderful, sugary goodness. A few hours later, you might crash as the sugar wears off.

You might hire an employee because they appeared to meet your needs on the surface. They had the right skills on their resume and answered all your questions correctly. Then, someone else showed up for work and you wondered where all that sugary goodness went.

On the other hand, Cheerios are very different from Froot Loops®. The front of the box is more serious. Brown is not a very exciting color and there isn’t as much sugary goodness. The nutritional values are different. Cheerios contain less sugar and more protein, may lower cholesterol, and possibly reduce the risk of heart disease. Not all of these values are on the front of the box. Some you have to uncover on the side panel or the back of the box.

Knowing what attitudes and behaviors make a successful employee is critical. When you hire employees who have the skills and the values you need, your hiring health improves. Healthy hiring practices require you to go below the surface and uncover the values in your candidates to make a more informed decision based on your unique needs. That’s not as easy as reading the nutritional information panel on a box of cereal.

The biggest mistake small business make when they hire is focusing on the wrong things. They focus only on skills and experience and not on the values or the personality traits their employees need to fit into their company culture. Healthy hiring requires you to be crystal clear about the skills and qualities necessary in successful employees. You also need to be clear about the attitudes and behaviors of unsuccessful employees. Understanding the difference between successful and unsuccessful employees dramatically improves your hiring health. When every hire is critical to your success, you can’t afford the headaches and costly problems that come from hiring the wrong people.

Hiring is difficult for most small businesses. However, with some planning, it can be easily changed from unhealthy to healthy.

Interviews are the most common way small businesses read a candidate’s values. In some cases, it’s the only tool used to choose employees. Healthy hiring requires real facts to choose the right people for your business. Interview questions should be designed to provide that information. When you develop Insightful Interview™ questions and know how to distinguish between right and wrong answers, you can be confident that you are getting a true picture of your candidate’s values and whether they are the right choice for your business needs.

Every business has unique needs and cookie cutter approaches don’t work. A common interviewing mistake I see small businesses make is copying interview questions used by others and hoping to achieve the same results. We tend to stick with the easy questions that every candidate has researched the “correct” way to answer. When you ask insightful interview questions specifically designed to get a true understanding of the candidate’s skills, behaviors, and attitudes needed in your business and know the difference between a right and a wrong answer, your hiring health dramatically improves.

It’s easy to focus only on the surface appearance without going deeper and seeing what’s underneath when we interview. If you’d like a little help with your interview questions, you see how I reworded a traditional interview question in a way that gives you the insights you need to determine whether you are choosing Froot Loops® or Cheerios.

Please take a moment to share your interview questions and the results you are seeing in the comments section below.