Use Rigorous Practices To Hire The Best Staff Possible—Even if You Don’t Feel Like It

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

If you’re like most Financial Representatives (FRs) who need to hire staff, you are dreading the process. All of the steps in the recruitment and hiring process and even the thought of training someone has you feeling overwhelmed. The good news is you’re not alone. The bad news is if you do what many FRs do and shortcut the process, the wrong hiring decision can cost in you many ways that are even more uncomfortable than the hiring and training process.

Some of the outcomes of a rushed hiring decision include:

·    Finding out early in training that the person is a wrong fit and feeling stuck with your decision

·    Struggling for months or years to “make it work” which costs you time and money

·    Stress and constant aggravation (for both parties)

·    A high opportunity cost! Taking the time to hire someone who would have been more talented, more qualified and more driven could have taken your practice to a much higher level than you can achieve with the wrong staff

For some reason, many FRs spend more time selecting the right attire, a new watch or deliberating what car to buy than they do investing in a careful search for the ideal staff member and then diligently training them.

Here’s help!

1) Break it down. You do not need to do all of the steps in one day. Just take a few small steps each day in the direction of finding your ideal candidates and take your time.

2) Have you ever heard the expression “hire slowly, fire quickly”? You may feel a lot of pressure to fill a position to take immediate stress off your shoulders. However, having to go through steps to correct poor performance or fire someone is even more stressful. Firing quickly is done as damage control and you will likely end up right back at square one.

3) Go to FR as Employer on LinkNet for a host of tools and resources. Find the closest fitting job description and modify it as needed.

4) Work with your recruiter and Corporate Compliance to post the full position broadly internally and externally and include listing the qualifications that will attract the right applicants: announce via all-agency email, on LinkNet and through paid postings on job sites such as LinkedIn and other job sites your recruiter recommends. Work with your recruiter to find qualified candidates.

5) In addition to listing the top characteristics that you are looking for in an AFR that are essential to you personally in the announcement, use them throughout the process. For example, here are qualities that might be important in the position of Associate Financial Representative (AFR): detail oriented, self motivated, thrives working with processes and systems, highly organized and enjoys working with clients. Make a “score card” with a scale of zero to five for you and anyone else who interviews your AFR candidates to rate how qualified your candidates are from this perspective. Take notes after each communication with your candidates and keep good records.

6) Request resumes, cover letters and three professional references. Set an application deadline and process all applications in one sitting by ranking them. Create three piles—Yes/Maybe/No. Rank your top 10 applicants from 1 to 10.

7) Send your top candidates a personality test (such as the Harrison or Culture Index) and the Kolbe Index A before you initiate the interviewing process. To focus your search, look for Kolbe ideal scores that are 7+ Fact Finder, 7+ Follow Thru, 1-3 Quick Start and 1-3 Implementor. Kolbe is a unique test that measures a person’s MO, instincts, inate strengths and how they take action. Check the personality test results and take all of the data into consideration.

8) Write out your phone interview questions. Ask “behavioral” interview questions by asking for examples of how candidates addressed past work situations (an example would be “Tell me about a time in your past work when you were overwhelmed with competing deadlines. How did you manage the situation? What was the outcome?"). Additionally, find out about their current and future goals, priorities and attributes and how they might handle various challenges in the AFR position.

9) Focus your time on interviewing only your top ranking, very qualified candidates. Score the results and compile notes.

10) Invite the candidates who are the most qualified and the best fit for an in-person interview. In addition to traditional interviewing, have your candidates take written tests onsite with pen and paper to test for professional writing abilities, prioritization skills and even phoning skills (record and score the results). (To request sample tests that you have permission to use, email

11) Bring your top 2-3 candidates in for a final interview with people who you trust in your agency as well as future colleagues and have them score your candidates and provide you with feedback.

12) Phone all three professional references.

13) Prepare a written offer letter (check LinkNet) before you extend the offer to your top candidates. Have all of the specific salary, bonus, benefits and other information in writing. Negotiate the start date and send the letter immediately for his/her signature should they accept. Have a plan in mind of what you will negotiate on and what you will not (salary, vacation, flexibility of hours, etc.)

14) Once you have an accepted offer, have the two sets of finger prints and all of the paperwork completed before the start date.

15) Consider having your new employee go through state licensing class and pass their exam before starting if they are not already licensed. This will enable them to fill out applications, sign documents, and talk to clients since they would be licensed. Not only will the new staff member be able to fully focus on work (versus studying) they will be more productive sooner.

16) Put some time into planning your new employee's on-boarding/training schedule. Check LinkNet for samples. Schedule training meetings in advance. Set up welcome lunches and place recurring meetings on his/her calendar in advance. Plan for the first two weeks after your new AFR starts to focus on completing online trainings and meeting with staff who can get them up to speed quickly.

17) Once you have your new AFR’s acceptance in writing, contact all of your other applicants by letter or phone letting them know that the position is filled and thanking them for applying. (You never know…they might become future clients or know your clients. Treat them all with care.)

18) Clean up the new AFR’s work space thoroughly. Do not give them used/broken office equipment. Have all technology set up by the time she/he arrives.

19) Make the first day special by having a fresh bouquet of flowers or a plant on his/her desk to welcome your new AFR.

Spending the time to lay the groundwork for a person you will spend much of your time with, rely on to service your best clients and trust to be an extension of you is well worth the investment of patience, time and thoroughness. Be rigorous with hiring for the sake of your future staff, as well as the potential of building your best possible practice.

For Kolbe consultations or assistance with your hiring process, contact to schedule your first introductory coaching session with us.