For a business, poor employee performance is one of the biggest contributing factors to lost profits and stalled growth. Additionally, poor employees lead to high turnover, another primary contributor to low profits and growth.

Hiring quality employees relies on one thing: identifying them. Following are the seven best ways to identify–and ultimately hire–excellent employees.

Businesswoman handling a job interview

7. Pre-screening situations

As opposed to screening questions, pre-screening situations allow potential employers to conduct an informal, pre-hire assessment of an applicant’s ability (or willingness) to perform.

The first type of pre-screening situation arises out of an instruction being given to the applicant. Of course, the most common is to arrive at a certain time for the interview. Being late to an interview does not bode well for an applicant’s ability to succeed in even the basic job requirements.

However, providing the applicant with an additional instruction, such as where to park, can provide insight as to whether the applicant can or will successfully follow simple instructions. Another pre-screening situation an interviewer can use to determine an applicant’s organization is to instruct the applicant to bring printed references or a brief written summary of why he or she is best for the position.

Pre-screening situations help an interviewer make a broad classification as to high-quality candidates and low-quality candidates. High-quality candidates will follow each and every instruction. Low-quality candidates will offer excuses.

Another common pre-screening situation is interviewing a potential employee over lunch. Simply put, a lunch interview can provide information regarding how messy an applicant is. Additionally, in the parking lot, an employer will have the opportunity to glance inside the applicant’s car where the state of array or disarray will give insights into the person’s general organization.

6. Screening questions

During an interview, screening questions are a standard practice. However, the best screening questions are those that assess measurable performance and contribution.

For instance, asking an applicant how many days a year he or she misses is both measurable and verifiable. Questions pertaining to the average sales volume, profit achievement, or customer-service rating also result in answers that are both measurable and verifiable. Questions that focus on measurable performance also give some insight into the person’s ability to work with a team, problem solve, or stay organized because these three attributes are generally required to exceed any goal.

Interviewing new employee candidate

5. Background check

Background checks help screen criminal behavior. For many industries, such as education or patient care, they are often a state requirement. For other industries, such as retail or restaurant, they are a very good idea.

4. Pre-employment assessments

Perhaps the most effective tool a company can use to identify quality applicants is a pre-employment assessment. Pre-employment assessments like the Berke Assessment offer proven, pre-packaged solutions to helping quickly assess candidates and separate the best from the rest.

For instance, The Berke Assessment provides a quantifiable way to assess personality, problem-solving ability, and integrity.

Additionally, pre-employment assessments provide a predictive analysis score. A predictive analysis score results from comparing the needs of a job and company with an applicant’s ability to meet those needs. The score provides an employer an accurate summary of an applicant’s ability to perform well in a specific role.

Finally, pre-employment assessments offer employers the ability to “get to know” the applicant before actually meeting him or her. Being able to to understand, at-a-glance, whether someone will fit within a job position saves valuable time in the interview.

3. Resume and cover letter review

Reviewing a resume offers insight into skills and experience, but doing so also allows a potential employer the opportunity to read between the lines.

For instance, at worst, short job tenure, otherwise known as job hopping, might indicate a problem employee. Additionally, job hopping might indicate indecisiveness or the inability for an applicant to identify a suitable career field.

Reviewing a resume also allows an employer to gauge if an applicant is under- or over-qualified. Under-qualified applicants might represent diamonds in the rough, or they might be those applicants simply unable to succeed in a position. Conversely, an over-qualified applicant might be someone looking for an interim position until something better comes along.

Reviewing a cover letter provides insight into someone’s ability to communicate. If written communication is important to the position, the cover letter is one of the best ways to gauge that ability.

Job interview process

2. Interview questions that assess positive outlook

Simply put, interview questions that permit an applicant to complain or be negative will indicate how positive that person actually is. Such questions can include the types of things an applicant did not like about his or her job or the types of things he or she did not like about a supervisor or company. Additional questions might include why a person wants to leave the company. With these types of questions, how negatively the answer is framed is often more important than the answer itself.

1. Consensus hiring

Consensus hiring is when the hiring derision is either made by two or more people or when two or more people have a high degree of influence on the final decision. Perhaps the best way to hire a quality employee is to have another supervisor or manager conduct a second interview. Getting feedback from other supervisors will help create a consensus regarding an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.

Another way to achieve consensus hiring is via a pre-employment assessment. For instance, pre-employment assessments that involve interview, scenario-based, and role-playing questions provide employers an effective way to obtain outside consensus regarding an applicant. As mentioned above, they also provide accurate ways to assess personality and integrity. For small departments or small business owners, being able to rely on objective assessments that assign a predictive suitability score to an applicant means being able to more readily identify the best match for just about any position.

Finally, pre-employment assessments are one of the absolute most effective ways to negate any potential subconscious hiring biases, be they negative or positive.

However it is accomplished, consensus hiring is a great way to increase the odds of hiring a great employee.