Create an Objective Process to Find the Right Agency Hire

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David Shepherd
David Shepherd



objective-hiringOur greatest enemy in interviewing candidates is ourselves. We lose objectivity and justify guesses with subjective evidence. We find arguments to justify our decisions and prove our analysis is correct.

To make matters worse, we hamstring our honest and good-faith efforts before we even get to the interview. Most hiring managers walk into an interview without a strategy or framework for finding the best candidate. Consider this: You have six candidates interviewing for a position, and each person is interviewed by four different people. That results in 24 interviews where people ask the same questions, hear different answers, and form different opinions.

This sort of interview process propagates subjective decision-making and leads to costly mistakes in hiring. A well-thought-out interview process and candidate evaluation framework provides guideposts to keep the hiring team objective and rooted to assessing each candidate on the same proven criteria.

Identify Your Primary Criteria

Let’s use the example of hiring an account manager to walk through the process.

First, you need to boil down the skills, talents, and experience you are looking for to a list of 8 to 12 criteria that will be used to evaluate each candidate. Here is an example of a few points you might include:

1) Self-Starter

As the lead point person for multiple clients, an account manager has to have an exuberance for tackling the highest priorities without direction or approval from her supervisors.

2) Marketing Aptitude

Account managers are known to be jacks-of-all-trades, but you need a candidate who has specialized knowledge in a specific field, such as inbound marketing, search, retail marketing, etc.

3) Emotional Intelligence

The client-agency relationship is never without some bumps, and the best account managers have a sixth sense about how happy clients are. Often times the fate of a long-term relationship is not determined by the original mistake, but by how your agency responds. The account manager is on the front lines and needs to be equipped to handle these situations.

4) Curiosity

Clients are looking to agencies for the "big ideas". The ideal account manager is not only interested in the needs of their clients but is also invested in self-education.

5) Team Player

Serving clients is a team sport, and the account manager must thrive in a collaborative environment.

Create Scorecard

The next step is to compile your criteria into an interview scorecard that each interviewer must use in her assessment of a candidate.

An example might of an interview scorecard might look like this:


You should have multiple people interview a candidate, but their opinions should be formed around the same criteria.

While the goal is to find quality employees, a successful interview is one in which you accurately judge whether a candidate will be a good fit for the role and your agency.

Your Hiring Stool

While you've outlined a large list of criteria to judge candidates on, you should also identify skills or attributes a person must have to qualify for the position. This could be either personality traits that are key to maintaining your agency's culture or specific skills for the position.

Imagine these criteria are like the three legs of a stool. Without one or more of those legs, the stool will fall over. A candidate who doesn't meet all three points can’t be successful in her individual role or at the agency. If a candidate is missing one of these key traits, you can't hire the candidate. This way you can objectively rule out many applicants and can judge all those that make it through interviewing on a focused set of issues.

What are the three criteria that make up your hiring stool?

Topics: Agency Process

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