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To be the best in your industry, you have to hire the best. I always say to my managers: Is the person you are going to refer to me for a final interview an A-plus?


An A-plus is someone with attitude, someone who has a good sense of energy and urgency, someone who has good grooming, who is personable, who has the skills, who has the potential to be great, who is out there to want more in his or her life, because if you want more in your life, you’ll want more for others.

When you’re recruiting, you have to consider how this will add to your biggest business cost – your payroll. Will the person you are recruiting have a positive effect on your productivity? You invest a large part of your revenue in people, so doesn’t it make sense to have the best?

For your own survival, you must get return on investment from your people. You must employ the right interview techniques when recruiting new staff. Too many employers miss out on the best applicant and cost themselves time, energy and money because they lack basic interview skills.

Compared to the amount of interview information for jobseekers, when it comes to being educated on how to recruit the right person, employers are constantly overlooked. Many job applicants have turned down job offers due to a bad interview experience. So it is important that an interview be a positive experience, to sell the benefits of your company.

There are three basic rules of recruitment: CAN DO skills and experience, WILL DO attitude and personality, and WILL FIT company culture. Employers must understand that an interview is an exchange of information, and they must control the interview by asking the right questions.

A good job fit = the right eduation + the right experience + a compatible personality.

To make the right decision, we have a simple 10-point recruitment plan.

  1. Follow the 80/20 rule. Get the jobseeker to do 80 per cent of the talking. The person asking questions and listening is the person who’s in control of the interview.
  2. Ask open-ended questions beginning with ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘when’ or ‘where’. They invite long answers that encourage jobseekers to do most of the talking. For example, “When were you a member of a team? Can you describe what it was like?”, “What would you do if… ” and “How did you handle a situation where…”
  3. Avoid closed questions beginning with ‘did’, ‘would’, ‘do’ and ‘are’. These questions can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They do not encourage jobseekers to talk. For example, “Do you have any experience working on a team?”
  4. Ask probing questions beginning with “Tell me more… ”, “Describe to me… ” and “Explain to me… ”
  5. Use the power of silence. Pause while waiting for a real answer. Don’t ever underestimate the value of silence in an interview.
  6. A jobseeker’s past job performance is the surest guide to their future performance.
  7. A good job fit = the right education + the right experience + a compatible personality.
  8. Beware of the ‘just like me’ trap. Focus on the job requirements and the candidate’s qualifications.
  9. Help the jobseeker feel at ease at the beginning of the interview. They’ll open up and talk more freely.
  10. Don’t make assumptions. Look for repeat patterns of behaviour to draw conclusions about the jobseeker.

My objective is to recruit winners, and my policy is to do everything I can to help them become winners. I make sure I provide them with the tools and support they need to perform better and feel better in their jobs. It comes down to this: selecting the right people, training them to have the right skills, and giving them effective support and the freedom to deliver value to customers.


First published July 2012.

Rosemary McKenzie

Rosemary McKenzie

Rosemary McKenzie is Co-Publisher and Co-Founder of Samara Magazine. A seasoned businesswoman, she is also Director of successful mortgage broking business, Melbourne Mortgage Solutions.
Rosemary McKenzie