5 Killer Questions to Ask to hire the best employee

  • Management Services


  • Hiring expert Mel Kleiman sat in on a job interview recently that demonstrated why it is easy for candidates to defraud the process, because a manager brought in an applicant,  therefore explaining exactly what the job required saying to the applicant, “So tell me a little bit about yourself.”

Most importantly, the person was not an idiot. She had listened carefully, and immediately recited qualities and attitudes that perfectly mirrored the manager’s needs. She described herself as dependable, reliable, and conscientious, therefore a wondrous match for the job she’d just spent two minutes hearing about. Besides that, who would have thought such a diamond would be discovered so quickly?


The manager had accidentally given up control of the interview, as many do.  Your goal is to hire the best employee, but too often you end up hiring the “best applicant.” To change that, you must develop a system that doesn’t focus on the packaging, but most importantly on the product inside. Here are five questions that Mel Kleiman suggests will help you dig deeper:


“Tell me about the achievement you’re most proud of.” It is not the achievement itself that matters, it is how they did it. Get an applicant to relate the steps and the hurdles it took to accomplish that magic. Immerse them in that golden memory and they will begin to expound without a script.


“On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank yourself as a …” Many managers will unwisely obsess over the number they hear besides that number is the least important part. What you’re looking for is a sophisticated level of self-analysis and self-awareness, therefore you want to know what has made someone a 6 or a 10. A good follow-up question is, “What do you think it would take to get your number higher in that area?”


“Did your last company do performance appraisals?” Ask how the applicant felt about the process and the results because in  today’s world, because it is hard to get references, and this is your chance to learn what a former boss wrote down on paper. If you feel confident in scheduling a second interview, ask that a copy of a recent evaluation show up.


“If you could ask me just one question about the job or the organization, what would it be?” This one’s a bit of a trick because Kleiman says it does not matter what the answer is; your follow-up should always be the same: “Wow, what an interesting question. What made you ask that one above all?” The goal here is to reveal what the person’s #1 true motivator at work is. If you listen close, it is likely to be in their response.


“How did you prepare yourself for this interview?” Many interviewers like to ask “What do you know about our company?” But the “how did you prepare” question shows you how much they want the job because it is what they are willing to do to get it.

Sexual Harassment: Old vs. New Rules

  • Sexual harassment has maximized in front-page headlines. Is your organization next in line for a colossal complaint or a #MeToo hashtag complaint?The old HR rules for preventing and confronting harassment charges have changed. If you are still relying on 20-year-old prevention, training and complaint policies, you could be in a dilemma.

    Do you understand your rights?

    • ​Discover the newest practices for preventing, investigating and remedying sexual harassment in the workplace.
    • Learn how to develop a program that will not only meet compliance requirements but also ​change employees’ behavior. 

    What is considered unlawful “harassment” in today’s workplace? Many types of harassment exist today from when the Supreme Court first defined sexual harassment and created an employer defense.

    • How do you craft a lawsuit-proof anti-harassment and discrimination program? Understand what to say, how to say it and when.
    • How to draft a new policy for responding to complaints against key employees
    • ​Why your harassment training needs to be up close and personal (Find out how to create company wide sessions so that everyone from the janitor to CEO takes it seriously!)
    • Steps to revamp your complaint process fostering an environment where victims feel supported, free of shame, and free from shaming

    What to do as an HR professional if a complaint involves a high-level executive or other key person – who do you call and how fast do you act?


    Don Swift

Disciplining Employees for Absenteeism

Absenteeism and Excuses

Employers hear all the excuses. “My alarm didn’t go off.” “My car broke down.” “My babysitter didn’t show up.” “I have a terrible cold.”  Sometimes those excuses for being absent or late ring true. However, chronic absenteeism and tardiness become major problems in the workplace, consequently wreaking havoc on productivity as well as morale.

You would think getting an employee to show up on time every day would be a simple matter. However, these days you really can’t simply say, “Be here or be fired” when an employee walks through the door late or not at all. Accordingly, you must add in legal factors such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Delicate Strategies

For this reason, business owners and managers must employ strategies that combat absenteeism. Nonetheless, they must also remain on the right side of the legal line.

Disciplining employees requires a delicate balancing act. Push too hard and you alienate people. Tiptoe around the core issue and you confuse people. It’s never easy, and most managers never learned how.

Eight Do’s and Don’ts

When it comes to disciplining an employee for absenteeism, several different strategies are available for your use. Deciding which one works best for you isn’t always cut and dried. Avoid making disciplinary mistakes could lead your company to court by following these do’s and don’ts:

√ DO figure out an acceptable level of absences, if your organization does not specify a maximum number. Think about how many days an employee could miss without significantly sacrificing work quality.

× DON’T penalize employees who have a legal reason to be late or absent. Such reasons should be specified, e.g., physical therapy, alcohol treatment, or leaving early for a doctor’s appointment. Consequently, the same goes for employees who have a legitimate reason to be late or absent using earned company benefits, like personal days.

√ DO make sure you understand who gets the last word on any gray areas in dispute about any policy that affects attendance.

× DON’T undermine your company’s absenteeism policy by ignoring any step that seems convenient. It can lead to charges that the rules were applied in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner.

√ DO recognize the difference between the employee who was out one day all year—even if you suspect it wasn’t for a good reason—and the employee who has a chronic problem. Adjust your discipline accordingly.

× DON’T get bent out of shape if an employee challenges your interpretation of any policy that deals with attendance. Work it out.

√ DO begin documenting absences as soon as you notice a trend. Record dates, hours absent, and the reason the employee gives for them.

× DON’T put employees in the impossible situation of choosing their jobs over their health or family responsibilities. That could be a violation of the FMLA.

Effective Communication

No manager enjoys disciplining employees. In fact, it’s an important part of the job.  I you do it the right way, you can help a misbehaving employee solve a problem — or get rid of an employee who is a problem.

Effective managers communicate concern, redirect unruly behavior, and confront wrongdoing.  At the same time, they maintain a respectful tone. They leave no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.


Onboarding: The First 90 Days

Onboarding a new employee and their first 90 days can be crucial to both of you. You spend so much time and effort finding the right people.  However, what happens when they show up on Day One? How do you handle employees’ first few hours and their decisive first 90 days on the job?

A Plan

You won’t get a second chance to make that vital first impression. Yet many workplaces simply throw new hires to the wolves with a “sink or swim” strategy. Not smart! Employees who participate in a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to remain with the company after three years compared to those who have no training.

You need a plan in place, nothing complicated, just simple training.  Therefore, this article attempts to lay out a straightforward, practical 90-day strategy to welcome employees. It gets them up to speed and helps them become fully engaged. The result: Better performance and stronger retention.


I put together some ideas to put into your planning.  First and always include the six critical steps of onboarding (call me for information) and how to implement them.  Above all and in all sessions, give the new employee a voice.  Furthermore, allow him/her to ask as many questions as needed

First Day:

Welcome your new hire with good old-fashioned hospitality. Serve coffee, donuts, juice or any other good food. Invite the entire staff or the important leaders from the employee’s assigned work areas to greet him/her.

Company Orientation:

  • The culture and values take time to completely understand. For that reason, help the new employee understand the kind of place he/she now works.
  • Basic administrative activities, such as payroll, email, etc, should be completed right away.
  • Through a benefits overview the new employee is impressed that the value of their employment with the company reaches beyond just the hourly pay or salary they receive.
  • A Handbook review, the guidelines you set forth for all employees, must be on the agenda.
  • Introduce the employee to a company overview, explaining what the company makes, who the customers are, and what each of the departments do.

Host them for a luncheon at least on the first day of the on-boarding.

Finally, make sure the new employee receives proper, current Compliance Training in harassment, violence in the workplace, ethics, and safety.

Second Day:

It’s time to move the trainee to his/her respective work areas.  This called Skill Level Training.

Begin this phase of training with an overview of the job(s), the skills they need to learn, and the performance criteria expected. Always inform your employees to expect performance reviews.

If unable to do so the first day, introduce the new employees to the team members with whom they will work.

Give a tour of the work area and show how their work and portions of the overall process affect the outcome of company’s finished product.

The First 90 Days:

Re-introduce new employees to his/her assigned trainer/mentor and explain the training process.  Provide all documentation necessary for understanding the job, the skills, and the quality requirements.

Furthermore, provide step-by-step plans for the training process. Remember to include release points for determining the success or lack of success of the employee.

As training progresses, take time to explain how each step being taught fits into the bigger picture.  Impress on the new hire the value of meeting quality requirements.  Also, never leave out the importance of communication both to and from the employee.  Make proper and appropriate communication a requirement of the job.

Conduct documented performance reviews at 30 days, 60 days, and finally, at 90 days.  Instill in the employee the understanding that a reasonable amount of time will be given to accomplish the skills necessary to do the job.

Finally, conduct the 90-day performance review with the understanding that the employee demonstrates the ability “work at speed” and perform all quality requirements.

New Employees

What matters to new employees and what they want to know from you:

  • Obviously, the number one thought of the new employee stems from the concern of how he/she fits in to the new environment.
  • Secondly, he wants to know pay and benefits.
  • Then, he will want to know there are measures of understanding in place in the expectations set forth on job performance.
  • Finally, he will want to know when to expect that his training will end and that he is considered a regular employee.

Consider this:

Research shows that almost 50% of Millennials plan to switch employers this year because their expectations about the job contrasted so greatly with their actual experience. A smart 90-day onboarding plan would stop such turnover in its tracks.

So, stop spending more time on your company picnic than you do on your onboarding process. Unlock the secrets to create a simple but effective 90-day onboarding program that will help you achieve two of your most important HR goals – higher productivity and lower turnover.

Call Don Swift and Associates for help and guidance when you begin your onboarding process.


Positioning Yourself for Upward Mobility

Middle Management

Middle managers serve a vital role within any organization, but often desire upward mobility. If you are middle management, you bridge the gap between top administration and the support services staff. Therefore, the responsibility of implementing strategic plans falls on your shoulders, right down to the smallest of details. You enjoy the challenges of working to keep your employees and customers happy and satisfied. Likewise, you may love your job and are happy to carry out these directives. consequently, you see the results firsthand, but eventually, you may want more from your career.

Do you find yourself thinking you have what it takes to accept more responsibility? Do you want to continue your upward climb within the organization? There are not as many top-level positions available as people desiring them. What can you do to make sure those leaders making the decisions about promotions recognize your talents and abilities?

Upward Mobility

Five ways to position yourself for upward mobility …

Practice situational awareness.

This is a key within any organization. So, study the dynamics when key players within upper management interact with one another. Take notes on the different topics, initiatives the players wish they had time to accomplish, etc. File this information away in your brain.  Furthermore, start deliberating ways to help them accomplish their outspoken goals. This keeps you in touch with the inner workings and needs of upper management. Conversely, know what topics to avoid, what topics set them off, and what they consider a waste of time. Listening is key.

Think “big-picture”.

Start asking yourself, “What piece of the organizational puzzle am I contributing today?” Recognize the significance and the role you play in moving the organization forward, the 20,000-foot view. This simple shift in thinking prepares you to interact with upper management.  It puts you in their mindset where the welfare of the overall organization is first and foremost each and every day.

Volunteer for additional responsibility.

Let your supervisor know you crave more responsibility. Volunteer for special projects. Never turn down an opportunity to work with other people in your organization. Every experience gives you opportunity to show your talent. It also widens the circle of people who report to your supervisor about you. You can’t be everywhere all the time. You want others talking about your leadership abilities and how easy you are to work with, even when you are not around.

Declare your goals.

Make an appointment enlighten your supervisor about your end-goal. Ask for their advice on self-improvement to be considered for upper-level responsibilities.

Don’t take constructive criticism personally.

Show upper management you respond positively to constructive criticism. It shows a highly regarded level of professionalism and objectivity among upper management. Show them a level of proactiveness and willingness to create change.


Middle management is incredibly important to all organizations. The above tips can be useful regardless of your ambition. Every organization is different, but most leaders are looking for the same thing when looking for new managers. We want strong, independent, critical thinkers who know how to inspire others and get work done.

A professional coaching package is available if you are interested.