3 Rules For Hiring The Right Person Every Time

Hiring the wrong people over and over again is exhausting. Here’s how to break free.

3 Rules For Hiring The Right Person Every Time

How many times have you had to fire someone who looked great on paper, but failed to perform? If your answer is more than once, then you’re not alone. No one wants to hire people who don’t work out, yet most people continue to repeat their mistakes over and over again. Here’s how to remove yourself from this hiring loop:


Hire for passion. Hire people who feel strongly about what they are trying to achieve. Roy Ng, senior vice president, head of business operations for SAP Cloud, is a firm believer in this philosophy. In fact, Ng was hired by a number of companies who sought him out because of his passion and potential. He now does the same when he is seeking top talent.

Passion is one of those things that you can sense when someone walks in the room. Do they have a bounce in their step? Does their face light up when they talk about the future? Do you find yourself nodding your head and going along for the ride when they suggest a new way of looking at things?

Hire for fit. Someone who is a great hockey player may not be a star player in the NBA. The same holds true in the business world. Someone who is accustomed to having a support team around them will most likely falter at a startup where employees are expected to wear multiple hats. Look for people who will fit into your organization.

“You can’t judge the book by its cover. But the fit piece is pretty critical,” notes Ng. “At Goldman Sachs, we had stacks of resumes from top schools from people with top grades. In the end, the paper only tells you so much. I’d trade some of the paper achievement for some of the intangibles.”

Before you can hire for fit, you have to know what you are looking for. What traits do your most successful people have in common? What core values are near and dear to your organization? What does it take to be successful in your organization?

Be open to all possibilities. Not too many people would expect to hire their next corporate sales person from a retail store. But then again, not too many people have obtained the levels of success that Julie Kahn, senior vice president at Entercom New England, has.


“You can identify the traits of a successful salesperson early on,” says Kahn, who has hired waiters who’ve impressed her in restaurants. “Seize the opportunity when you see someone who blows you away.”

Vow to make changes in your approach to hiring this year. Then take advantage of your extra time by finally taking that vacation you promised yourself.

–Roberta Chinsky Matuson is president of Matuson Consulting and the author of Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-­5 Leadership pick. Her new book, The Magnetic Workplace: How to Hire Top Talent That Will Stick Around, will be published in 2013. Sign up to receive a subscription to Roberta’s newsletter.

[Image: Flickr user Kevin Schoenmakers]

About the author

For more than 25 years, Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, has helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies, including Best Buy, New Balance, The Boston Beer Company and small to medium-size businesses, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. She is known world-wide as “The Talent Maximizer®.” Roberta, a leading authority on leadership and the skills and strategies required to earn employee commitment and client loyalty, is the author of the top-selling book, Suddenly In Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, 2011), a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book For Leaders.