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How to Hire Successfully in Today’s Tough Environment
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How to Hire Successfully in Today’s Tough Environment

8 actionable steps from long-time industry consultant,

We're hiring sign

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WEATHERFORD, Texas — Hiring has always been tough. The pandemic just made it a little tougher. While that’s the bad news, the good news is that some really good people are out of jobs due to unfortunate situations outside their control.

If you are looking to hire, you and your team want to find these good people. To sort them out from the slackards, use these pandemic-tested proven steps excerpted from The Meridian Method of Hiring.

  • Look for more employment insights and hiring tips in the October issue of CSP magazine.

1. Imagine the perfect hire. When you visualize the person you desire, you’ll be able to design an ad and/or talking points that will attract them. This is not the usual litany of job duties. It is descriptors of personality, energy level, likes and dislikes, all the things that make someone fit your team and position. A list in someone’s head is not as effective as a written list, so get these on paper.

Note for convenience-store owners: Your perfect hire may now be very different than in the past. High school seniors with reduced school schedules are now great part-time recruits and could stick with you through college if they choose local.

2. Study your best employees. You want more superstars, so look at the background of some of your best employees at time of hire, and how they learned about their initial position. Ask them what attracted them to your company initially and why they still work for you. Listen carefully, as you will use often verbatim what you discover to find and vet your next superstar.

3. Create an attraction magnet. When developing a job description or campaign, whether talking points for existing employees to recruit friends or a formal ad or posting, the words must be magnetic to the person you visualized in Step 1.

If writing an ad, a quick look at similar positions on job boards will reveal many boring ads all about the company doing the hiring. In the petroleum-retail industry, they typically start with “XYZ is a 70-year old company that does … .” This is not magnetic! Magnetic is beginning with questions that immediately make the ideal candidate answer to themselves: “Yes, that’s me.”

For example:

  • Are you a high-energy, people-loving, hard worker with cashier experience that would appreciate flexible hours so you can earn a living and still be available to spend time with the most important people in your life, your family?
  • Does the idea of doing something totally different every day you come to work appeal to you?

Your goal is to capture their attention and create the mental state that says “That’s me!” before you ever tell the candidate about the company. That is in the next paragraph, which should be written in the context of what is important to your ideal candidate, be it income, family or flexible hours, for example.

4. Reward referrals. Current great employees can be wonderful help to bring you equally great candidates. Many smart companies pay a small bonus for referrals at hire, then reward again at the 90- or 180-day mark of the new hire. In that way, current employees are compensated for the success of their referral, which facilitates mentoring and emotional investment in the new hire.

5. Match culture first. When considering an applicant, the absolute most important element–above skills, above experience, above everything else–is a candidate’s cultural fit with your company’s core values. A quick culture test, verbal or written, should be the first hiring hurdle for applicants. I don’t care how badly you need a body, never hire outside of your core values match. At Meridian, we have candidates go to our website, specifically have them find the “Why Meridian” section in our footer, read our core values, and quickly tell us if they feel they are a fit. If no, we say thanks and good luck. If yes, we ask which resonates with them the most and why. That quick process is very revealing.

6. Test learning, coachability and current skills. Most companies would rather have eager learners than employees who think they knows it all. Assuming they must learn your ways, a new hire needs to be coachable. As soon as you determine culture fit and get into interviewing, ask: “What new skills did you learn at your last job, and how did you go about that learning?” The answer will disclose humbleness and humility, or lack of both necessary to succeed at successful companies.

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7. Use remote video screening. While remote interviews have become necessary recently, there are advantages to this approach. Virtually every person can get on their smart phone with video for an interview. This can be much more revealing than an audio-only phone call. The Meridian Method suggests three remote interviews before meeting face-to-face. Expediency is achieved by using standardized questions to determine critical attributes and skills, coupled with a scoring matrix that advances or rejects candidates throughout the process. At Meridian, we consistently winnow 150-250 applicants for each position down to three live interviews within seven days using remote conversations.

8. For a final interview, use a team. No matter how small your company, the final in-person interview should be conducted and scored by a team, never solo. Two or three heads are always better than one. Is that expensive in terms of personnel time? Yes, but much less expensive than a bad hire.

Now reflect a moment. What is one thing you could improve in your hiring process based on these seven steps? Rest assured when you do take action, you’ll have less turnover and higher profits. I’ve witnessed this time and time again with both retailers and wholesalers. Happy hiring!

Betsi Bixby is president ofMeridian Associates. Meridian Associates has been partnering with family-owned petroleum marketers for more than 25 years to remove barriers, accelerate business growth and reduce stress levels.

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