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The Step by Step Guide to Hiring the Perfect Person

This article was based on episode 209 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.

Gone are the times of hiring people based on relationships and gut instincts. We need to have clarity on the work to be done to guide us to find the perfect person for the job. When I spoke with Tatiyana Cure on how to rock the hiring process, Tatiyana emphasized the importance of thinking through the entire process of hiring. Tatiyana brings her extensive background as an executive recruiter and talent acquisition leader to her work of coaching managers. She has partnered with thousands of hiring managers in a wide variety of industries. Tatiyana wrote her first book: "Hire to Win: Manager's Practical Guide for Attracting and Interviewing Top Talent" to share a blueprint for those looking for a step-by-step guide to hiring the right person for the role. She guides us here through the key steps of creating a recruiting intake, writing job descriptions, doing reference checks, sifting through resumes, and finally, the interview itself.


If you buy a couch from IKEA, you don’t just start putting pieces together without at least glancing at the directions. Likewise, you can’t jump into the hiring process without sitting down and considering what you are looking to accomplish by adding someone to your team. To create a recruiting intake, consider these questions:

What expertise, capabilities, or skills do you need within your team?

What goal is your team or business trying to achieve that this role would contribute to?

Why is your organization unique?

What would the day to day job look like?

What would success for this role look like six to twelve months down the line?

What are the must-have skills and deal breakers?

Answering these types of questions will help you narrow in on the job to be done. This then becomes the basis for crafting the job description.


When writing the job description, remember that the attention span of most candidates is short; they’re probably skimming it while on a busy commute or during a boring meeting. Therefore, get to the point quickly. Break up the text with numbers so it’s easy to read. Be as specific as possible; if you’re looking for someone with good communication skills, what does that really mean? Be precise; if you need Excel skills, define exactly what someone must know how to do within Excel. Spell out what success looks like or what the person will have accomplished a year into the job. If the job description scares people away, that’s okay. They probably aren’t the right fit. The right people will believe they have what it takes to get started and can grow into a role that is professionally at a higher level than they are used to. Lastly, include the compensation range so that people know what they’re getting into and you avoid the process failing at the last moment due to different compensation expectations. Plus, you create equity in the hiring process by disclosing the compensation up front. (And, in some states it’s legally required, so just do it!)


One of the most burdensome aspects of hiring is figuring out who to interview based solely on a cover letter and resume. To help navigate this process, Tatiyana has identified four types of applicants: the Blanket Folks, Role Players, Stretchers, and Head Scratchers.

The Blanket Folks are those who send their resume out to every job that fits their keyword search, without taking the time to even read through job descriptions. They often don’t take the time to write a cover letter. Don’t respond to Blanket Folks; if they don’t invest time with you, don’t invest with them.

The Role Players are those whose skill sets are a great fit for your organization. They seemingly have all the right experience based on their resume and work history. These people are often the ones looking for a counteroffer to their current position or for a lateral move. During the interview, you’ll need to be able to articulate why your organization or this particular role has so much to offer them.

The Stretchers are those individuals who seem to be making a leap from their current role to the position you’re offering. Often they are looking for opportunities for development while advancing their career. There can be gems in the Stretchers; people who have great potential but will need some extra guidance and development.

Head Scratchers are those you’re not quite sure about. They may have left the workforce for a while and are just jumping back in. Maybe they are taking a step back from their career path to find something more fulfilling. Make sure to interview some Head Scratchers; often they have hidden talents that will enhance your team.


Before starting the interview phase, decide what questions would best assess the capabilities of the candidate. You’ll want to use the same set of questions for each person in order to minimize bias while leaving room to explore each candidates’ unique experiences.

For the first interview, keep it to 25-30 minutes. This initial conversation is about making sure you’re right for each other. Focus on the key competencies and deal breakers while avoiding the typical ‘tell me about yourself’ questions.

As you move into the next phase of the interview process, include other stakeholders as interviewees. Align with them up front on the core competencies and questions they’ll ask, as well as how you’ll collectively assess the candidate.

Set up a peer interview so the applicant can learn about what a day in the life of the job looks like. Give them the opportunity to see the culture in action. You want the applicant to really know it's a right fit for them before accepting an offer. The last thing you want is any surprises the first week on the job.

Tatiyana reminds us to be sure to provide time for a reverse interview, so that the candidate can get all their questions answered. Make sure to discuss work styles and preferences to avoid any future friction when working together.

If you find a candidate you love early on in the interviewing process, don’t waste time interviewing other candidates. While you’re busy exploring other candidates, you could lose your top choice to other offers.


Most people will put down references that they know will speak their praises. So how do we get the most helpful information out of a reference call? Tatiyana suggests asking for references from people who directly reported to them or who were their managers. When you’re speaking to the references, give them space to share first without prompting for specifics and see what comes up.

Ask follow up questions to dig deeper into those initial reflections. Consider questions such as: Would you rehire this person? What were they great with? What would they benefit from developing? How can I set them up for success? In what conditions do they struggle or thrive?

Finding the right people for your team is a little bit of luck and a whole lot of preparation. We can increase our odds of hiring the right person by having a solid foundation in place. Think through the recruiting intake to articulate exactly what you want and why you need that kind of person. Craft a job description that will grab the attention of your ideal candidate. Learn to sift through resumes so that you spend time on the right people. When it's finally time for the interview, be thorough about what the candidate is signing up for. And, conduct reference checks that supply you with useful information. Hiring is an art. When we do it well, we attract the right people and produce stronger, healthier teams.


Get one of 10 free copies of Tatiyana’s book Hire To Win when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at

This article was based on episode 209 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


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