There’s a lot to be said for your instincts when it comes to evaluating possible new hires. You’ve stored knowledge from past experiences and patterns of behavior, and our gut instincts take that into account when we determine whether a candidate would fit a position. Your intuition can be very powerful, and when coupled with some data gathered from a resume or background check, it can help to cement your decision.

Here’s how to adjust your initial assessments and some other tips to make your hiring process fool-proof.

 Tip #1: Trust your gut

 With every job candidate, your gut tells you “hire” or “don’t hire.” When your impulse is to hire, do your best to ignore it! You’d rather pass up a good candidate than make the costly mistake of hiring a bad one. Instead, keep doing your due diligence—conduct first and second interviews, evaluate her experience, and run background checks. Use this knowledge to draw a more objective conclusion about whether or not to continue pursuing this candidate.

 But, when your inclination is not to hire a certain person, pay attention to why and make sure you’re not being unfairly biased toward this person. Is there something about this person that’s putting you off? A tattoo? A hairstyle? Something about her appearance or background? Be careful that your initial assessment has to do with her potential performance in your company.

 Tip #2: Write better job descriptions

 Yes, define the job, but instead of focusing on the responsibilities and requirements that can sometimes be intimidating to candidates, highlight what your company can do for its employees. Include a list of benefits and perks and a brief, exciting description of your company’s mission. Make your organization sound so appealing that anyone would love to be a part of it!

 Tip #3: Know your ideal candidate

 You should have a very vivid picture of what the best candidate for this position would look like. Prepare a checklist with specific line items for his level experience, qualifications, education background, and even personality traits. Not every box needs to be checked, but you should at least give you some data to compare potential hires.

Tip #4: Review data carefully

 Your gut will point you in the right direction, but you have to supplement your decision with evidence. Peruse resumes, cover letters, perform background checks, and contact that list of references.

 Tip #5: Improve your interviews

 Pre-screen your top candidates over the phone before bringing them in for an interview. This will help you quickly evaluate their personalities—will they fit in with your company culture?—and determine whether their salary expectations match what your company can pay.

 During the interview, ask the right questions. Don’t waste time with questions that rehash information from the resume and cover letter. Instead, ask case study questions, inquire about strengths, weaknesses, favorite and least favorite activities. Find out about past failures, biggest challenges, and each person’s career goals.

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