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One of the most costly, time-consuming blunders a business can make is picking the wrong person for the job.

When asking questions of a job candidate, one query should carry more weight than any other: will you be a good fit?

Whether that applicant is seeking an entry level job or the senior executive post, he or she must be able to show they understand the culture of your organization. Will the candidate embrace your core values, or reject them? Will your company’s style of communication and work ethic match the candidate’s style?

Finding that perfect match is tough. Fit can be hard to judge because applicants sometimes mould their responses toward what they believe an interviewer might want to hear.

Some employers turn to aptitude or personality tests, while others go with their first impressions or use tricks like observing a candidate’s treatment of an executive assistant.

A number of LinkedIn Influencers posts this week touched on the topic of hiring, with some surprising insights and solutions to finding the right-fit job candidate.

Ryan Holmes, CEO at HootSuite

Holmes, who runs the HootSuite social media management site, has learned hard lessons by hiring the wrong people, he wrote.

“In the course of running my own businesses for more than two decades, I’ve done my fair share of hiring,” wrote Holmes in his post The Unexpectedly High Cost of a Bad Hire. “And I can tell you with absolute certainty that one of the most costly, time-consuming blunders a business can make is picking the wrong person for the job.”

 “How costly? The US Department of Labor currently estimates that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the individual’s first-year potential earnings. That means a single bad hire with an annual income of $50,000 can equal a potential $15,000 loss for the employer,” Holmes wrote.

Holmes has a few tips which could help hiring managers avoid mishaps.

For one, he said, “Over-prepare: a job candidate isn’t the only one who should cram before the interview.”

Prior to interviewing for an information technology position, for example, ask another IT professional about what makes a good team member, Holmes suggested. Holmes also recommended what he calls the “secretary test”.

“Recently, we had various people applying for a high-level sales role, and time and time again the candidates would bulldoze over my executive assistant,” wrote Holmes. “I checked in with her and was surprised to find out that many people who had been personable and courteous to me were downright rude to her.”

Lou Adler, author of Hire With Your Head and The Essential Guide for Hiring

Suppress your first impressions, wrote Adler in his post Performance Matters. First Impressions Don’t.

Before meeting a candidate, conduct a phone interview “to minimize the visual impact of first impressions,” Adler wrote.

Also, wait at least 30 minutes before allowing yourself to come to a conclusion on whether an applicant is right for the job, added Adler.

While some firms require that the same questions be asked of every candidate, many do not. If that is the case, at least the same two questions should be asked at every interview. Interviewers tend to ask easier questions to people they like, while asking harder questions to people they don’t, Adler wrote. One question he suggested: Can you describe your most significant accomplishment?”? Another is: How would you solve this problem?

 “I’ve worked with thousands of candidates, and tracked hundreds of them over the past 30+ years. The only common trait among the best is their track record of solid performance, not the quality of their first impression,” wrote Adler. “Judge them instead on their performance. You won’t be disappointed.”

Other Influencers

J.T. O’Donnell, founder and chief executive officer of Careerealism.com, writes about how job applicants can make their resumes attention-worthy to recruiters who spend little time reviewing each CV.

Can the gap between skills employers need and the education job candidates have be remedied by government measures? Diana Farrell, who heads up the McKinsey Center for Government at consultancy McKinsey & Co, weighs in.

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