Translating Hard Challenges into Big Time Success in Hiring

By: Amy Querin


What are the hard challenges in your hiring model? For many, especially companies in the 10-250 employee size range, the challenge is finding the right candidate for a key leadership role in a small market. Not only that, but you want someone who is aligned with your core values. Think about that. You’ve got a limited talent pool to pull from and you’re trying to fit someone who looks good on a resume into your company culture. You’re basically trying to catch a unicorn, or ‘purple squirrel’ as we like to call them at Titus.

Titus Talent has a solution to your unicorn problem and it’s pretty revolutionary. You need to dump the job description, prioritize your core values, and look at the whole person with a Head, Heart, and Briefcase (HHB) approach. Decades of expertise in the field of talent strategy and proficiency in current trends and technology gives us the essential tools necessary to catch unicorns, and you can do it too.

In this article, we will try to demystify some “aha moments” you must have in order to hire successfully. You can continue learning with our free courses linked at the end. Now, let’s tap into the magical world of big-time hiring success!


The Secret Step to Right People, Right Seat Hiring

You’ll often hear us talking about getting the right people in the right seat. It’s a clever phrase, made popular by the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, and it’s one of those business reads our founders cite as a key bit of inspiration in the early years. The problem is that, like with many clever phrases, it becomes cliché and easy to dismiss, but that would be a mistake. Sure, you know you want the right people, but it’s the right seat part of the phrase that’s key. You don’t start by looking for a good employee, you start by looking at the role you’re looking to fill first – the seat.

That means you’re going to have to take some time to determine what that right seat looks like. This absolutely takes some work at the outset, before you even begin looking for a new hire and this is where many companies set themselves up for a bad hire, or failure in the seat. They dive into the hiring process without doing the prep work.

We’re not just saying this, we know it to be true. We’ve heard from some clients that the only hiring prep strategy they have is to dig up an old job description and post it on the job boards. We hear it so often, we’ve even dubbed it the “post and pray” method.

Let’s look at what’s involved in this secret step – defining the seat and then honing in on what you’re truly looking for in a candidate for big success in hiring!


Overriding Performance Objectives

Establishing a Performance Profile is a critical step to your big success in hiring. In the past, the job may have had a title, for our example, let’s say it was a CFO (or COO, Integrator, VP of Sales, etc.). The temptation is to assume that you’ll simply start looking for CFO candidates, the more experience the better, right? That feels logical, but it isn’t. You’re not hiring for your specific company or for your seat, you’re hiring a resume at this point and completely ignoring who the person behind that resume is.

Trash your job description! Instead, build a performance profile. Clearly defining performance objectives gives you a clearer view of the seat and your company’s true goals. Plus, having defined three-to-five top performance objectives is part of the eye candy that attracts Top Performers. You can take our Free Hire 4 Performance workshop to get started building a Performance Profile.

What do you want this person to do, achieve, and accomplish by Day 365? What are three to five SMART goals that if this person accomplished would indicate they were a great hire? If you are running on EOS, a lot of this work has already been done. You can pull a seat’s “Top 5” responsibilities from the “Accountability Chart” and build “Quarterly Rocks” as the bulk of the performance profile. We strongly suggest a calibration meeting with all stakeholders concerning the seat. You can use our Pre-Kickoff Survey as a guide.


Looking at the Whole Person (HHB)

Once you have a better idea of the Performance Objectives for the seat, you can begin to baseline the HHB of the role. Understanding that each aspect, particularly the Head and Briefcase, will change as the role changes. In other words, the way you define the behavioral drivers of an ideal Controller should not necessarily be the same as those of a VP of Sales.

Here’s the key – all stakeholders concerning the role will need to agree on the ideal candidate’s HHB in order to be a top performer in your company.

  • Head – How is the individual naturally wired and how will they ramp up in the position? In our recruiting services, we use Predictive Index (PI), to take candidates through a behavioral and cognitive baseline process to see if there is alignment. We encourage all companies to use some sort of behavioral analytics – preferably one that has both behavioral and cognitive elements and is legal to use pre-hire, like PI.
  • Heart – The heart is broken into values and motivators, for both the company and the role and then that is compared to the individual. Your company values are what you’re all about, and you want anyone joining your organization to align with those values. The companies who have clearly defined their core values stand the strongest chance in interviewing around the Heart. A candidate’s key motivators can give you a better overall picture of how to work with a person and how to maximize the fit within your specific role.
  • Briefcase – This is where the resume or skills and experiences portion comes into play. What type of professional successes does the seat require? Note that if they do not have all of the qualifications yet, they might be trained to fill in experience gaps. We often consult our clients about the psychology of passive candidates; a 30% job stretch for the candidate is ideal to attract the right person who will be motivated to bring their whole self to your seat. Top Performers rarely make lateral moves.


Training to See the Unicorn

To be perfectly honest, some people are great at interviews because they’re able to read the questions and the interviewer and they can sense what you want them to say. They have what we call “interview insight”. We see this a lot in sales positions and people who are naturally good storytellers. This might make them feel like your unicorn, but they’re just a horse with a horn taped to their head.

Other people might be particularly bad at interviews and have a bit of that old “test anxiety” creep in. At a glance, they don’t even come close to your unicorn, purple squirrel, or any other animal kingdom reference. That is until you use a hiring process followed by all that is customized for the specific seat. You must hold your team accountable for knowing what to look for instead of relying on their ‘gut feeling’ as a process. Don’t hire a good storyteller, unless storytelling is that seat’s primary performance objective.

So how do you interview to get to the true nature of a candidate? The answer is using a prepared interviewer with a structured interview process. Did you know that an untrained interviewer with an unstructured interview has only a 6% predictor of success? Yet, many companies go into an interview with a “let’s wing it” mentality and they send people to interview who aren’t committed to the hiring process or prepared to see what has been defined as a baseline.

Behavioral and cognitive analytics is important here to really dig beyond the façade and to understand how the person thinks and behaves, particularly under stress. Every consultant at Titus Talent is certified in our Hire 4 Performance methodology, which follows a proven interview process, which includes the Predictive Index (PI). Just by adding behavioral analytics to your hiring process, you can bring your chances of having a successful hire up to 58%. That’s a huge leap from 6% with no preparation to 58% by adding behavioral analytics. And that’s looking at the head only. Add heart and briefcase predictors and you dramatically improve your chance of success.


The Cost of a Bad Hire

So, what happens when you don’t have a process in place that defines the seat, looks at the candidate as a whole person (HHB), and narrows the candidate pool to true unicorns?

A bad hire can be a waste of anywhere from 25 to 75% of that person’s first year salary as a long-term business cost of a bad hire. But there’s more:

  • Lack of productivity across multiple departments
  • Negative impact on company morale
  • Weakened employer brand
  • And the uncertainty of facing what could be a broken hiring process again


Big Success – The One Year Anniversary

We like to start with Day 365 in mind. When you defined the performance objectives, you should have included quarterly and annual goals. The measurement of successful hiring is when your new hire will accomplish those top three-to-five objectives.

So, when will you know if this new hire was a great hire? When do the challenges intensify? Many traditional recruiting firms offer a 90-day guarantee, but we consider this part of the honeymoon. That is why we offer our partners a one-year guarantee on our candidates.

First of all, we know that most people hiring claim that quality is their top priority, but then they turn around and focus on speed and cost. This means many of the key steps to defining the seat and looking at the candidates through an HHB lens are skipped. They’re hiring a resume and not the person. Then, they’re forced to not only pump the brakes when things are working, they have to slip into reverse and try to force the person into the mold that they wanted to fill in the first place. You can see how this is setting the company and the individual up for failure.

We know that the HHB is not just a tool for getting someone in the door and asking them to have a seat. It’s necessary for onboarding and post-hire training. It’s what helps them get comfortable in that seat and want to stay there.

The wholistic view of the person means understanding the HHB of their being. How they operate, what motivates them, what skills they already have, where they see themselves going, and then maximizing on that. It’s also about what weaknesses need to be offset because growth is possible but changing a core being is not. Remember, the end goal is optimal performance.


If you’d like to hear more, Ben Murphy, Vice President at Titus Talent Strategies talks with EOS Implementer Greg Benson in greater detail about how to catch your unicorn and find the right hire, the first time.

Want to connect and hear more? Click the button below!


*Schmidt, Frank L. and Oh, In‐Sue and Shaffer, Jonathan A., The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 100 Years of Research Findings (October 17, 2016). Fox School of Business Research Paper. Available at SSRN:

*FREE Whole Person Webinar

*FREE Hire 4 Performance Workshop

Related Insights

Talent Checkup

Want to start a journey towards building a high performing culture? We can give you a roadmap. It takes less than 10 minutes.