Expert Commentary

Hiring Managers versus Entry-Level Employees: Steps for Success

Whether you need to hire entry-level employees who may be fresh out of college, managers to inspire their direct reports to increase productivity, or C-suite executives who need to chart a new business course, consider these necessary steps to find the best talent for each level of your organization.


Employee Hiring, Development, and Retention
July 2019

Hiring managers need to remember that each position in the organization requires specific capabilities. A one-size-fits-all approach to hiring often leads to misaligned employees, either with their fellow employees or with the company as a whole. 

Consider the following best practices for hiring entry-level employees, managers, and executives to positively impact key performance indicators (KPIs) tied to productivity and reduce the risk of unwanted turnover. 

Best Practices for Hiring Entry-Level Employees

Hiring entry-level employees, especially individuals who do not have significant work experience, can be challenging for any hiring manager. The key is knowing what roles need to be filled in your organization and understanding how to identify the candidates who best fit those roles. 

When To Look Internally versus Externally

Most organizations will look externally for entry-level employees. However, your organization may offer a college internship program or a "volunteer work program" where unpaid entry-level workers are already in the door. In this case, develop a method to compare the individuals who already have experience in your company and external candidates who are looking to newly join. 

Match the Competencies Tied to Highest Performance

To narrow down the candidate pool, hiring managers need to take the following three crucial steps. 

  • Identify the emotional intelligence competencies that are required for each of your job openings. 

  • Establish benchmarks by identifying the competencies that are tied to the highest-performing employees currently in those roles. 

  • Use a validated tool that measures emotional intelligence to match each entry-level candidate to the benchmarks. 

The results of the comparison to your benchmarks will lead to the next important step of conducting a behavioral interview with each candidate. 

Identify Traits for Success

Because many entry-level workers do not have a significant work history, it is important to examine their résumés and talk to references in addition to reviewing their assessment results to create questions for a behavioral interview. A behavioral interview helps you dive into a candidate's competencies and relevant history to gather facts and measurable information. This will help you continue driving toward your goal of hiring the best entry-level employees who match the ideal persona for each position you are hiring for. 

Best Practices for Hiring New Managers

One of the most important decisions for any hiring manager is knowing when to promote an individual contributor to a manager versus hiring from outside the company. It is imperative to take the guesswork out of the decision by following an objective process to arrive at your result. 

When To Look Internally versus Externally

Hiring a new manager can have significant ramifications on company culture and your KPIs tied to productivity. Consider the following four potential outcomes. 

  • Promote a respected individual contributor from within = boost company morale 

  • Overlook a respected individual contributor and promote an unpopular employee = detrimental to company morale 

  • Hire a new manager from the outside who has the respect of their direct reports = more likely to be productive 

  • Hire a new manager who is not respectable in the eyes of their direct reports = less likely to be productive 

However, it is important to remember that promoting/hiring an individual who carries the respect of their peers does not automatically lead to a boost in morale and productivity growth. Your task is to gather and evaluate measurable information about each candidate to support the ultimate hiring decision. 

Match the Competencies Tied to Highest Performance

Obtaining measurable information will help eliminate the guesswork from promoting or hiring a new manager. You need to identify the competencies required for each managerial role, establish the benchmarks based on your highest-performing managers already in the company, and use the assessment results to evaluate the emotional intelligence competencies of each candidate. 

For example, one managerial role might require systemic thinking with strong adherence to processes, rules, and plans. Conversely, another managerial role might require more intrinsic thinking with strong intuition, empathy, and personal connections to motivate direct reports. 

Identify Traits for Success

To complete the process of evaluating your internal and external managerial candidates, you need to evaluate their leadership traits, talk to references, and prepare behavioral interview questions. This applies to both sets of candidates—even internal candidates because you are hiring for a different position than they are currently employed. 

Best Practices for Hiring C-suite Executives

Hiring for the C-suite is challenging because of potential damage to your company from a bad hire. Additionally, executives at this level command a higher salary than other employees, which means costly turnover from the wrong hire. 

When To Look Internally versus Externally

There is an inclination to only look externally for a new executive hire to provide a fresh perspective from a leadership position. However, that fresh perspective could already be in your company. That is why it is imperative to measure and evaluate the competencies of employees from other levels in the organization to find internal candidates to add to your C-suite hiring pool. 

Match the Competencies Tied to Highest Performance

Because of the critical nature of hiring at this level, you need to focus on the competencies for each executive role, establish benchmarks, and compare each candidate's assessment results to the benchmarks. You cannot treat one executive position the same as another; each role requires an individual measurement. 

  • Internal candidate. Match up the candidate's competencies to the persona of a high-performing executive. Is there a good or bad fit? Could you be sitting on a hidden gem in your company? Would they need minimal or extensive training to advance to this level? 

  • External candidate. Compare the candidate's competencies to the benchmarks for the highest-performing executives in your company. Does the candidate match the benchmarks? Does the measurable information lead you to believe that they would be a good fit for the role? 

After narrowing down the candidate pool, you should conduct a behavioral interview to confirm or question information from the assessment results. This process will help you dig into an internal candidate's work history at your company or discover an external candidate's red flags that were not apparent before the interview. This will help reduce the risk of a costly hire that otherwise would have set back your company. 

ZERORISK HR offers the ZERORISK Hiring System to help hiring managers make informed hiring decisions and manage human capital at all levels in your organization. Included in the hiring system is an assessment based on the science of axiology to measure the competencies of each candidate. The system also produces hiring benchmarks to compare each candidate's competencies to the position they are applying for and a custom behavioral interview guide. 


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