Dear Experts,

Another employee just quit after only being here for a few months.  That’s the fourth one in 6 months!  How do I hire better people?


Portland, OR

Hi Megan-

In this day and age people do tend to drop from job-to-job more than they have in the past.  But keeping employees starts from the very beginning with recruiting.

It’s so much more than a job description. Consider the position and the duties.  We don’t want to bore people, but you do want to set clear expectations.  Also, remember that this is also your chance at a first impression.  If you like to hire for the long term you need to tell them about the company and the culture.

Ask the right questions. Review the application or resume in advance.  If you wait until you are right there in front of them, you may miss a “red flag”.  Look for extended gaps in dates, did they take a break to raise kids?  Did they travel the world?  Were they locked up?  Depending on your position this answer is very important.   You also want to explore why they left the previous positions (and get to hear how they may someday talk about your company).  Use scenarios to find out how they overcome challenges. See what goals they have for the future – how does it line up with the company?

My favorite interview question is, “Say you want to make a sandwich at home for lunch.  Walk me thru it.”  You can learn a lot about someones personality with this one simple question.  How detailed are they?  Do they ask a lot of questions?  Do they find humor in it?

Don’t be impulsive. I know it feels like you are losing another week of productivity, but it is worth taking your time.  Don’t make an offer until the applicant has met with multiple people in the company.  Managers or team members should all have a chance to not only meet the candidates, but also feel like they have valued input.  Each member of the process should have a few questions to get the conversation started.  I usually talked about their job history and the job itself, let the supervisor talk about the company and growth and a team member to talk about the culture and my management style.  You never ask, “should we hire them”…but you can ask how they felt about the answers to their questions.  The decision to hire them comes down to you based on their feedback.

Actually call the references. Don’t overlook this vital step in the selection process.  Get a feel for who they have worked for in the past.  Ask if they would rehire them if a similar position was available.

I hope maybe this can put you on the right path as far as both hiring and keeping good employees.



Hiring the Right People Out of a Sea of Resumes