Finding what right looks like, part 2: Understanding behaviors is the key to successful hiring

This post series comes to you courtesy of our cofounder and co-managing partner Jeff Wilson. For more information on how Jeff can help you discover “what right looks like” in your hiring, please contact him at 317-598-1950 x102 or

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Over the years, we’ve heard numerous managers express concern about the amount of time they spend trying to get their employees to do the things that need to be achieved, or even to do just the basics of their job. If the adage is true that you get 80% of your results from the top 20% of your people, then the reverse would explain why these managers feel this way. Many executives and managers have told us about hiring what they thought was going to be a good employee–only to learn that they had hired a dud.

These mis-hires, as we call them, are extremely costly to a company. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that a mis-hire of someone at the VP or C level can be fatal to a division or even the company as a whole.

Based on many years of experience, it is our opinion that the vast majority of mis-hires are the result of a faulty hiring process. Or they are the result of a complete lack of a consciously established hiring processes (i.e., companies are “winging it,” hiring based on habit and intuition).

And what do almost all faulty hiring processes have in common? They do not take into consideration the importance of behaviors.

Many Fortune 500 companies have embraced the concept that all people have certain natural or innate behaviors, which enable them to be more successful in certain types of jobs than others. Behavioral-based interviewing is derived from the principle that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Understanding which behaviors an employee needs to succeed is a fundamental task in finding what right looks like for a particular position.

Think about the different abilities that it takes to be an engineer versus a ballerina, or an accountant versus an actor. Multiple studies have found that behavioral interviewing is much more effective than traditional interviewing techniques. People who use behavioral-based interviewing techniques tend to hire better employees, and better employees mean a more successful company.

The challenge then becomes how to change the way you’ve always interviewed and selected people and develop a system that increases the odds of successfully hiring the right person to get the job done. While nothing is foolproof, just increasing the odds of a successful hire from about 30% to 80% or better should give you an incentive to embrace the change.

In my next post in this series, I’ll start discussing in detail the individual steps of our hiring process. It will start with Key performance indicators (KPIs) are “right” numerically expressed.

The Key Corporate Services Blog Team
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