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Articles > Positioning Systems Newsletter #47 7-26-05 "Locus of Control"

I'm beginning the recruiting and hiring process. What are the most important factors to consider in a candidate so I make the right hiring decision?

Perhaps because my oldest son is just graduating from college this is a more important question for me to answer. Several of my clients are working through the Hiring and Recruiting Module right now and one of them came across an excellent book on the Hiring Process from an article I had given him. It's "Don’t Hire Anyone Without Me!" by Carol Quinn’s.

As a sales manager and general manager of a radio station it seemed sometimes like we had a revolving door especially in the sales department. We were constantly looking for good salespeople, even when we had a full house, because you always wanted better performers. One of the areas I got very good at was the recruiting and hiring process. It had more to do probably with having to do it so often, but it was probably the first place I got a clue on how a system for hiring would help. I develop a system for recruiting and hiring so every time I needed to find someone new I wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel.

In doing so I was constantly on the lookout for questions and ways to determine good performers from those who would be ordinary or mediocre. Every time I found a good question I would add it to my list. I was always very prepared for my interviews and had an evaluation form to grade those people I interviewed. In addition I had several objective testing tools to help remove the biggest obstacle most interviewers face when making hiring decisions, relying solely on the subjective results they collect. It's been discovered that most hiring decisions are made in the first seven seconds of an interview. Can you imagine that? Why does that happen? I guess there's real truth in the expression that first impressions count.

So what are the most critical factors to consider in making a hiring decision? Carol Quinn offers her top three as 1) Locus of control, 2) passion or interest in the position, and finally 3) skill level. This is the order she feels is most important in the hiring decision, and I agree with this assessment. In fact for years in the radio business one of the most critical aspects of my testing and questioning was centered on this area of "locus of control."

I heartily recommend anyone entering into the hiring process consider picking up her book. Her material supports the ideas the E-Myth preaches. While skill level is critical in some positions, in many positions skill level can be taught. And my experience with employees and the clients I work with the greatest percentage would rather have an employee with a good attitude than someone who knows how to do the job well, but has a mediocre or poor attitude.

So what is this locus of control? How do you measure it? What does it mean? Locus of control is expressed in the candidate's attitude. It's there identification of an internal versus and external motivation. External refers to the individual's perception of events, positive or negative, as being related to one's own behavior and therefore beyond their control. They believe only through outside intervention do events change. Carol Quinn calls these individuals slogan: "I wish I were luckier!"

Internal individuals refer to their perception of events as being a consequence of their own actions and therefore the potentiality of being under control. Again Carol Quinn's slogan for these individuals is: "The more I sweat, the luckier I get!"

Which type of an individual would you want to hire for your company? Do you want someone who strongly believes their actions can produce results or someone who believes the opposite, that their efforts cannot influence results? I hope you can see that the internally motivated employee has the probability of being a much better performer.

In her book Carol Quinn provides questions to discover the candidate's locus of control. Chances are if you've documented a list of questions you already have some of these and don't even know it.

Hiring right is a critical element to growing your business. Building systems will help govern the consistency and predictability of the outcomes you produce, and where would that be more important than making sure you are getting the right people "on the bus" from the get go. Do you have a system for hiring and recruiting? Do you know when you interview if the candidates you want will produce the results you want?  Isn't it time you systemized your hiring system?

Need help implementing these ideas?

Positioning Systems helps business owners and entrepreneurs transform their business.  We provide the tools and coaching to help you take control of your business -- rather then having your business control you.