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How to Hire Better Candidates

Updated: Mar 15

I recently had an Executive Director ask me for advice about a tough hiring decision. Her team was hiring for a position that required a long term commitment for training and certification, so she wanted to be sure that the right person was chosen.

There was an internal candidate who was a strong contender and had good relationships with everyone on the team as well as their clients, but a surprisingly strong outside candidate had been interviewed, and now the hiring committee was struggling with the decision.

As we talked, I asked her some clarifying questions about what important attributes and skills were needed for the position. Then, I suggested she create a rubric for making this hiring decision, and a process that could also be used going forward.


Have the committee members brainstorm and list all of the needed skills and attributes necessary for a position or role in a table, and rank them by importance.

Next, assign a numerical point value to each that reflects the importance of the skill or attribute. So for example, the most important skills could be ranked at 10 points, followed by lesser important skills and qualities that are ranked at 8, 5, and so on. This important preparation helps the members of the search committee become very clear about what qualities and skills are important in a candidate, as well as how important each is before even posting the position or interviewing any candidate.

Then, each member of the hiring committee would assign each candidate numerical values for the categories based on their interviews/hiring materials.

You can also ask each candidate to rank themselves on the rubric and use that as a jumping off point for your interview. The point total for each candidate is a great starting point for the committee to discuss the candidates, and makes the process more objective.You don’t have to have a hard and fast rule that the candidate with the higher point total automatically gets the position, particularly if totals are close, but the difference in totals can lend clarity to a situation that is often fraught with subjectivity. Of course, if the total point value is wildly divergent, this can make the decision much easier!

Bottom line: Hiring clarity can be enhanced by being very intentional about what qualities and skills someone in any role needs to have, and by creating processes and tools to facilitate the communication of the hiring committee in making the decision.

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