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Finding and keeping great employees is a challenge. In fact, according to McKinsey, 82 percent of business leaders don’t believe their companies recruit highly talented people; among those who do believe they recruit top talent, only 7 percent believe they can retain these employees.

How do you recognize which candidates will become long-term A players? What determines a candidate’s potential for greatness within a specific organization?

Hint: It’s not always the candidates who stand out in interviews. Sourcing and nurturing quality talent goes way beyond that. Here’s how modern HR technology can help companies pinpoint the specific traits of great employees and effectively onboard and retain A players:

Ask the Right Interview Questions

According to Glassdoor, 88 percent of hiring decision-makers believe an informed candidate is a quality candidate. However, it can be hard to see through the charm of a well-informed candidate to find out whether a great employee really lies beneath the surface.

To determine which applicants will make great employees, cut to the chase: Ask what their professional goals are. The key trait that separates great employees from the rest is motivation.

Some topics your hiring team should focus on include:

  1. The individual’s work ethic: What drives it? Is it aligned with the rest of the company?
  2. The individual’s decision-making process: Do they understand their decision-making process? Can they articulate it? Can they give you an example of when it has worked well? Of when it has failed them?
  3. The individual’s motivations for improvement: What are their goals for growth? Do they have personal goals? How do they follow through on their goals?

A candidate is more likely to be a successful employee if their answers to the above questions align with the company’s mission, vision, and values.

Hiring teams should be able to turn to their applicant tracking systems (ATSs) for interview guides and candidate management tools that streamline the interview process. Creating a strategic interview script — and making it easily accessible to all recruiters — will ensure every interviewee is given a fair chance to demonstrate their aptitude.

Your interview script may contain some questions like the following:

1. Company Values

“Which of our values do you feel you most embody, and how has it helped elevate your career?”

“Please describe a time when you feel you effectively demonstrated our company value of ________.”

2. Skills and Performance

“I see you worked at [company] as a [job title]. Can you think of a time you had to help one of your customers through a stressful interaction? If so, please explain.”

“Please describe a time you helped solve a problem that arose at [company]. What part did you play in solving the issue?”

3. Work Environment

“What kind of work culture do you flourish in the most?”

“Describe someone who shaped your career and why you find them so important.”

Enable Your Hiring Team With a Goal-Based Approach

Many leaders read “hire for cultural fit” as “find a person who looks and acts like me and will fit into my circle.” This misunderstanding has stymied the hiring processes of even the most in-demand employers that could have their pick of the talent pool.

In terms of a culture fit, what really matters is whether a candidate shares the company’s values, can perform in the environment, and has previously attained goals similar to those of the company or department. For this reason, your interview scripts should take a goal-based approach to accessing candidate fit.

Each role in the organization has its own mission, goals, and defined set of responsibilities. A role management software can help you outline and understand these aspects of each role in your company. You can use this information to further refine your interview script.

At a basic level, your goal-based interview script should consider the following:

  1. Is the person sitting in front of you in the interview room able to accomplish the specific goals of the role you are looking to fill?
  2. Does the person lack any specific traits or experience the position requires? If so, what do they lack? What training would your business need to offer if you decided to hire them?
  3. What departments in your firm would benefit from having this person added to their teams?

Hiring teams often stop at the attributes mentioned above when evaluating candidates, but you can go further by considering these additional elements as well:

  1. Establish the overarching goals of the hire’s specific team or department, then work backward to determine the tasks and projects the new hire would need to complete for these goals to be reached.
  2. Using those overarching goals, formulate interview questions or assessments that will determine the applicant’s ability to perform as desired in the role.

For example, you might ask the interviewee how they would approach a challenge your team has faced in the past. This will help you understand what they value in times of crisis (process, organization, collaboration, etc.) and will give you a taste of the skills they have and use confidently. A goal-based approach to hiring is especially helpful in uncovering a candidate’s transferable skills that will help them thrive in your role.

Assess Your Internal Talent Pool

Six out of ten employees want internal growth opportunities, according to an ADP Research Institute study. If employees don’t have such opportunities in your company, they will start to search for them externally.

You always want to hire top talent, but sometimes that top talent is already inside your organization. Performance management tools can be invaluable when it comes to tapping your internal talent pool to fill roles and offer employees the growth opportunities they crave.

Performance management tools keep track of employees as they progress within their roles, monitoring their benchmarks and identifying their strengths along the way. If you’re looking for the best candidate for a role, consider starting the search by checking your performance management data. You may just see a perfectly qualified candidate within your ranks.

Plus, once you promote the employee, you can use their past performance data to define the skill sets, responsibilities, and goals their old job requires. Then, you can use this information to craft a goal-based recruiting approach as outlined above. You’ll be able to base your interview questions on a well-defined set of expectations and assess new hires against benchmarks set by someone who truly excelled in the role.

When you promote top performers, the return is twofold: You give current employees the growth they want, and you set new hires up for success with a realistic, attainable set of expectations.

Don’t Stop When You’ve Made the Hire

Onboarding is a major part of candidate success. Given that 20 percent of turnover happens within an employee’s first month and a half on the job, you need to be meeting your new hires’ needs from day one.

Onboarding technologies help you organize your new hire training, set goals and checkpoints, schedule reviews, and monitor progress. Onboarding technology can also help you build a dynamic process that streamlines administrative tasks like tax paperwork, handbooks, and benefits enrollment. This allows new hires to move to more meaningful training more quickly.

Plus, onboarding software can also help new hires manage their own onboarding processes. They’ll know what to expect, what is yet to come, and where to find all of the resources they’ll need.

By utilizing onboarding technologies, you can plan a program that makes your new employees feel welcomed and supported, and you’ll be able to spot any obstacles along the way. In other words: You can start developing new employees into A players sooner.

A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.

Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.

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