Hiring is hard.

Managers have to sort through heaps of applications, attempting to pick stand outs from piles of copy-and-pasted cover letters and resumes. On the other hand, candidates have to showcase their best side during a nerve-wracking interview and somehow persuade their previous bosses to put in a good word. It's a mess, isn't it?

How do we surpass this sticky phase of pre-rehearsed pageant question-and-answers and move towards a place where everyone is in a peak state and performing as if they were on the job? Anyone can craft the perfect answer to a question, but practicing "show don't tell", has never been more important. Rory Haynie, president of LegalNet, a litigation cost management company, has had his fair share of hiring troubles, but points it back to one of a few foreseeable behaviors.

"The biggest red flag is to verify whether the candidate engages in balanced back and forth conversation, listens to understand, and makes appropriate non-aggressive eye contact. Lead the candidate around to meet current employees and observe whether they act the same or favor certain type of people over others. If so, they'll struggle as a team player."

Since then, he's implemented a three-step interview process beyond the typical sit-down. It's radically changed the quality of his hires and we think it could change yours, too.

1. Test Your Candidates

Create a test that is directly related to the role's duties. This will provide you so much insight into how well they do in a high-pressure situation and help portray actual talent in relation to the position. Plus, it will eliminate those who are better at talking instead of doing. Haynie explains:

"If you want an ace programmer, put them in an on-site room with developer tools, no internet, and ask them to build an application. Data entry candidates should be tested on speed and accuracy. Customer service representatives should perform a difficult phone call."

For bonus points, build tests that have an inherent flaw and see if they can find it and fix it. Yes, it's sneaky, but it allows you to see if they pay attention to the little details.

2. Empower Your Employees

Your current employees worked really hard to get there and even if they haven't told you this, they want to feel more important at work. They want to feel like they matter. Nothing makes a person feel this way more than being part of the hiring process. They know your company best and at the end of the day, will probably be working with this new hire more than you.

Allow your current team to have short one-on-ones or small team chats with your prospective hire. This way, you can get honest feedback from different people while empowering your team. A win-win, for sure.

3. Conduct Working Interviews

Let's say your candidate nailed the two steps above. It's time for the final test: a working interview. Instead of bringing them in for another round of rapid fire questions, pay them to work a few hours. It can be solo or with the current team, but this will give you a better picture of how they're actually going to be in the role.

Are they more independent or team-oriented? How do they react when troubles arise? Are they on their phone a lot? Have a checklist of things you want to look out for while they're there. A final pro-tip from Haynie:

"If you are unsure of how to legally do working interviews, contact a temporary employment agency. Agencies may cost a few more bucks per hour, but they can protect your company against liability and save tons of paperwork."

Published on: Jul 27, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.