Hiring a new team member always carries its risks, especially when the candidate is someone you’ve never worked with before.

To mitigate these risks, hiring managers often set ridiculously high standards, seeking candidates with extensive skill sets, years of relevant industry experience, strong interviewing skills and a great first impression.


These factors aren’t an effective means to predict performance even when combined with behavioral interviews, competency models and traditional assessment tools.

In contrast, the success of individuals previously worked with or those highly recommended is highly predictable. The assessment criteria differ significantly, focusing on past performance, reliability, work ethic, learning ability, adaptability, organizational capabilities, and teamwork skills.

How to test if you have an assessment problem when it comes to hiring strangers

Before making a candidate an offer a promotion, whether it’s a total stranger or not, ask this question:

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know the job, the critical performance expectations, the hiring manager’s coaching style, and our company’s culture and values?

If the candidate ranks his or her knowledge a 7 or higher, ask the person to describe each of the factors in detail. If they are vague or too general, or if the candidate ranks their understanding of the job as 6 or below, DO NOT MAKE THE OFFER until you do what’s described below.

In parallel, compare those who truly know the job from those who don’t. It will become quickly apparent that most strangers have little insight about the real job and all that goes with it. The solution is not adding more skills, experiences and assessments to your company’s hiring process it’s starting over.

Use Performance-based Hiring as the foundation of your company’s entire hiring process

Performance-based Hiring is a great way to start over since it’s been designed by benchmarking how top performers have been successfully hired who are unknown to the hiring manager. Even better, it can also be fully validated on your next hiring assignment. The core steps are below and here’s the our new ChatGPT coachto assist in the process.

Define the job as a series of performance objectives. Instead of relying on a checklist of skills and experiences, success is defined as a time-phased list of 6-8 key performance objectives (KPOs) or OKRs (objectives and key results). For example, instead of requiring “5 years of sales experience,” a performance-based description might specify “increase regional sales by 20% within the first year.” This complete list of KPOs and the employee value proposition (EVP) is referred to as a performance-based job description or performance profile.

Evaluate the DOING not the HAVING. Assess all candidates – strangers and acquaintances alike – based on their past accomplishments most comparable to the performance objectives of the job. This method evaluates competency, motivation, and fit not just with the role but also with the company culture and the manager’s leadership style. Imagine a candidate who, in a previous role, led a project that turned around the performance of an underachieving sales team, demonstrating direct relevance to a sales leadership position you’re filling. This is much better than requiring a certain number of years of experience in sales management.

A formal live debriefing session is essential. This is the secret sauce. The hiring team must share their evidence in an open forum going step-by-step through each factor in the Quality of Hire Talent Scorecard. This structured approach helps to separate personal biases and emotions from factual performance indicators. For instance, during a debriefing session, the team might discuss specific examples of a candidate’s problem-solving skills in action, ensuring decisions are based on solid evidence.

Make it a group decision: Rather than giving everyone a full yes or no vote, assign each interviewer just one or two factors on the scorecard to “own.” For example, one person could focus on team teams and project management while another could focus on technical competency and problem-solving. By narrowing each interviewer’s focus their evidence of past performance is not only more objective but more credible. Gathering and sharing evidence among the interview team this way is an effective way to reduce the inherent risks of hiring someone new.

Clarify expectations is how you reduce the risk when hiring strangers

Gallup’s long-term studies on employee engagement reveal a concerning trend: only a third of the workforce feels fully committed to their jobs. For new hires this disengagement is directly attributed to hiring practices that fail to accurately predict job satisfaction and success.

Asking the 1-10 test of job understanding described above before making an offer reveals the extent of the problem.

Performance-based Hiring is a potential solution that you try out on your next hiring project. Then before making a candidate an offer ask the 1-10 question. Not only will their score be an 8 or 9, but the person’s predicted performance will closely match their actual on-the-job results.

And simply put, that’s how you eliminate the risk when it comes to hiring strangers.