Great Hires Start With Clarity

The First Step to Great Hires: Clarity

By Rikka Brandon, Building Gurus

A bad hire isn’t just frustrating—it can be costly to your business, from lost payroll to wasted training and time to mistakes and dissatisfied customers. But despite what you might think, combatting bad hires doesn’t start when you’re face to face with a potential recruit. It begins with upfront planning, a process that I call, “Getting Clear.”

Clarity is the effort you put in before you even post a job ad or start interviewing. By determining, ahead of time, why you need this role and what its responsibilities will be, what results you expect from the new hire in this role, and what activity levels they will need to maintain to get those results, you can create a stronger job description that sets expectations and objectives clearly upfront. This will guide not only those applying for the position, but the way in which you recruit, interview, and, ultimately, make your final decision.

This investment of time up front has a huge ROI. For every hour you invest up front, you will save yourself at least 10 hours of tail-chasing down the road.

Clarity ensures you’re able to:

  • Articulate a business need for the position
  • Set and communicate clear performance expectations for the new hire
  • Set performance expectations that you both agree to—before spending a dollar on payroll
  • Focus on what you need, not what could be
  • Understand the return on investment and value of the position

Once you are clear about what you need to hire, you will be able to:

  • Create a great job description (and ultimately a great job ad to attract your ideal hire)
  • More easily weed out people who aren’t a good fit
  • Eliminate wasted money by not having to train an employee who won’t last
  • Know what’s needed to ensure return on investment in the position
  • Build the framework to guide your recruiting strategy and interview process


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Creating this clarity requires some deep thinking into both the position and the person you’re considering hiring. Here are four questions to consider. Before hiring anyone, you need to be able to answer “Yes” to each of them.


Is it worth it?

Is it worth the time, cost, and energy required to hire someone? Will the end result make it worth the effort? It’s exciting to think about hiring, but it’s so important to remember all the actual work that goes into turning a hire into a successful employee.

Can you clearly set expectations for the activities and results?

Do you have clear activity and result expectations for the first 90 days, 180 days, and year? Are you prepared to communicate it with potential hires and make sure it’s reasonable?

Are you ready, willing, and able to train and support them for at least the next three months?

Even if they have years of industry experience, it will still take time for them to get to know your products, processes, and philosophy.

How long can you “carry” this person before they need to start paying for themselves?

The reality is, it takes most salespeople four to six months to start covering their payroll costs, and non-sales positions have a similar payback time. Can you afford to wait that long?
This process isn’t simple, and there are a lot of variables to consider. But it’s much easier to get clear before you hire someone than regret it when you have an underperforming employee you’re paying to disappoint you.

And always remember: NOT hiring someone is much easier (and cheaper) than firing them.

Rikka Brandon is the founder and Chief Executive Recruiter of Building Gurus, a boutique executive search and consulting firm that works exclusively with kitchen and bath and building product companies across the U.S. Rikka is a sought-after writer and speaker on topics including hiring, recruitment, employee retention, and leadership. Learn more about Rikka’s best-selling book and online trainings at