How My Firm Hires Great Employees

Even if I didn’t watch the news, I could tell you the economy is improving. My clients (financial service professionals) have started to talk about hiring, a sure sign that people are feeling more confident about the future.

Adding a team member is a big decision. If you are thinking the time is right to add to your roster, here are a few things to consider.

Before the interview

Adding someone to the team is a little like getting married; you are making a long-term commitment. Good planning and preparation are keys to success.

Make sure you know what you want. A detailed job description is a must. If you have other team members, involve them in developing the job description.

Consider this an opportunity to rearrange job duties. When one of my advisors was looking to add a team member, one of the existing team members spoke up and said that she would like to add some duties and eliminate others from her job description.

Advertising for a new hire doesn’t have to be the way to start your search. Look at alternatives. Would any of your clients be worthy candidates? Do any of your clients have children or grandchildren who recently graduated from college?

What about your service providers? That great salesperson or restaurant server already has certain skills you may find hard to develop in someone new.

If you do go the route of running an ad, consider Craigslist or something similar. Place the ad under the finance instead of the administrative section. This in itself will eliminate some unqualified candidates.

Your recruitment advertising must be compelling enough to generate interest but specific enough to exclude unqualified applicants.

If you don’t want to do the work yourself, use one of the local hiring agencies that cater to the financial services industry. Don’t know where to find one? Ask me.

The interview

To prepare for the interview, develop a few scenarios the candidate will likely encounter in their job. In the interview, use these scenarios to ask the candidate how they would act or react to different situations. Including one or two negative scenarios in the mix reveals how candidates solve problems.

When you are interviewing candidates, don’t just concentrate on qualifications. I generally ask very little about the content of their resumes. I want to learn about their hobbies and what stirs their passion. If all their free time is spent in solitary activities, it is likely they are not the best candidates for relationship-manager positions, but they might make perfect analysts. If they spend a good portion of their time in large group settings, will they be happy in your four-person office?

Make the interview process enjoyable for both you and the candidate. Ask interesting and unique questions. These 20 questions are not typical interview questions, and they can help you get a more complete understanding of an applicant:

  1. What has been your proudest moment?
  2. Have you ever had to go out on a limb to do something you thought was right?
  3. Who made the most significant contribution in the development of the person you are today? What was the nature of this contribution?
  4. What kind of relationships do you want to have with your co-workers?
  5. How do you persuade reluctant prospects to buy?
  6. You’re working under a manager who has great ideas but is very poor with detail planning. How could you best work with this kind of person?
  7. How have you overcome obstacles that were barriers to completing projects? Describe the obstacle and what you did to get around it.
  8. Some people feel it is important to do their best rather than win or lose. How do you feel about this?
  9. If you had three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?
  10. How do you feel when someone questions the truth of what you say?
  11. What would you be doing if you were not in this field?
  12. What kind of boss do you work most effectively with?
  13. What are your favorite leisure activities?
  14. What have you found to be the most effective way to change someone’s mind?
  15. Some people like to plan their day’s activities in advance. Do you do this? How so?
  16. Do you communicate more effectively as a speaker or as a writer?
  17. What is the most important goal around which you organize your life?
  18. A customer calls with a complaint. How do you handle the customer?
  19. You have a prospect who wants to buy your product immediately, but you are unsure whether your equipment or service would actually satisfy the customer. What do you do?
  20. If you had 1,000 accounts and prospects to keep track of, how would you organize them?

I don’t like the so-called 30-minute Interview. If I am planning to spend eight hours a day with a potential hire, hopefully for a number of years, I want to take my time to get to know them. Anyone can be on their best behavior for 30 minutes. Just watch your kids. When they want something, they know how to behave. A 30-minute interview is a little like speed dating.

Instead, take your time. Ask as many of those questions as it takes to be comfortable with your knowledge of the candidate. Although this sounds trite, I find that it is fun to let the person choose a number between one and 20, and then ask that question.

The interview is my opportunity to determine whether the candidate meets my criteria for good hires. My experience is that there are four qualities candidates need to demonstrate:

  1. They must be able to hold up their end of the conversation. If they can’t talk with me, how are they going to develop a relationship with my clients?
  2. They must ask good questions. This tells me they are curious and interested.
  3. They must have common sense. How well did they prepare for the interview? Were they prompt? How did they behave in my office?
  4. They must tell me they want the job. If an interview ends and I don’t hear enthusiasm for the job, I wonder if they are interested.

Although not every hire will last, you should treat each hire as if this person will be with you for life. Invest the time and energy to train new employees, help them succeed, support their efforts, keep them challenged and help them take pride in their accomplishments.

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