I was talking with a mentor of mine the other day, brainstorming for a new position I'm designing. I shared my draft position description with her and she said, "This looks great, but these are all things you'll hire on. What are the things you'll fire on?"
When I looked puzzled, she explained that people tend to get caught up in experience, previous positions held, and things like that. Those are the things they tend to "hire on."
When people choose to fire someone, it's not so much about the what they do, but how they do it. This is often referred to as "fit," or "cultural qualities" -- and those are the things you "fire on."
She helped me brainstorm a list of things to test for during the hiring process, such as:
- Calm and steady demeanor under pressure
- Intuitive with good listening skills
- Comfort in ambiguous situtations
- Balance of "task" and "people" management skills
- Honesty / integrity
- and so on...
I knew some of this stuff intuitively, but now that I've articulated the things I'm looking for, I've designed some questioning strategies to help determine whether my candidates meet these criteria.
So once you know what you'll hire on, figure out what you'd fire on and take some actions to minimize the chance you'll have to fire at all.