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‘The Law of Three’ Helps You Hire the Best People


In the first part of this article we discussed that to find the best employee you first needed to:

  • Create the right ad.
  • Have a clear detailed description of the ideal candidate for the position.
  • Look in the right places to find the right person.

In part II of this article, we are going to share some strategies to effectively interview your job candidates.

Business development expert, Brian Tracy suggests, that whenever you are hiring a new person, to use the Law of Three. Simply put, this law is:

  • Interview at least three candidates for any job.
  • Interview the candidate you like most at least 3 times.
  • Interview the person in at least three different locations.
  • Each interview should be at three different times of the day.
  • Have three different staff people interview the finalists one time.
  • Interview at least three people this person has worked for in the past.

It makes sense that you interview at least three people for any job for which you want to hire a new person. It is much too easy to hire the first person who looks and sounds like they would work out, only to find out later they were not a good fit. Most employees come with some flaws, and you won’t be able to detect any of them if you are overly eager to fill a job.

Once you feel you have an excellent candidate, interview him or her at least three times. This will give you the opportunity to get an honest impression of who they really are, and if they are truly the best fit for the job. One of the biggest hiring mistakes happens when the owner hires someone who reminds him of himself. Somehow, he believes that since this person resembles his enthusiasm or himself in his younger days, that he must be the right candidate for the job.

By interviewing prospects for a job in different locations and at three different times of the day, you can get a clearer impression of their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s face it, some people are better morning people than afternoon people. Some people look good the first time because they make a special effort to give a good first impression. But by the second or third time you talk with them, they don’t seem to shine as well.

When you interview them in different settings they look and behave differently. If you were to interview them at your office, they may exhibit certain tendencies. When you interview them at a restaurant, they may reveal different characteristics that may or may not be so desirable.

The suggestion of having at least three different staff people interview a finalist, allows you to get a different perspective of what this person is like. When people closer to the job candidate’s age or of the same gender chat with this person, they see different sides of his or her personality. This can go a long way in helping you get an accurate snapshot of this job candidate’s behavior style and the ability to fit in to your company’s culture.

The last area I would like to discuss in this article is checking references by talking to at least three of the individual’s past employers. One of my clients, a human resource director, shared with me how they had learned the hard way that people who apply for jobs do not always tell the truth. One applicant who they had hired completely fooled them. As it turns out, this person claimed to have a certain computer programming certification and expertise and just didn’t. In other words this person lied. The individual thought that once they got hired, no one would be able to tell, and he could just fake his way through his new job. Yes, they did have to fire him, and yes, it was an expensive mistake. From that point forward they have been very slow and cautious to hire until they have thoroughly interviewed, checked references and done a background check.

Although expensive, background checks and drug testing are mandatory as they often reveal significant flaws or baggage the potential candidate is bringing to the table.

It would seem, at first, that this is an almost overly conservative approach to hiring, but when you stop to consider the consequences of hiring the wrong person, it is not. It is just plain good business sense.

When it comes to checking with at least three of the applicant’s last employers, Brian Tracy makes another excellent suggestion. While it is true that most references selected are those people who would say positive things about the job candidate, there is one question you can legally ask, and it will tell you much more about the quality of the person being interviewed. Tracy’s question is: “Would you hire this person back again?”

The type of response you get, including how long of a pause there is between your question and the person’s reply is like gold. If you get the impression the job applicant was not the most valued employee at his or her previous job, make a special note. By checking with three different employers, you should get a pretty good picture of what kind of a performer this person actually was.

With one organization that I consulted, they made it a practice to have the option that if after all interviews were completed, they didn’t find the right candidate, not to hire anyone. They would simply repost the position and wait for a fresh group of applicants. When you stop to consider the cost and aggravation of hiring the wrong person, this makes total sense.

So, by taking your time and using these strategies in the hiring process, you will be building a foundation to hire the best possible person for the job. In the end you will create a win-win-win situation. That is, your company wins, the new hire wins and your customers will all be winners.

Next time we will discuss how to insure your new hire’s success. Until then, feel free to call me with any questions.

Tom Borg is a business growth specialist and popular Small Business Association of Michigan radio show guest. To reach Borg, call (734) 404-5909 or visit www.tomborgconsulting.com.

Richard Blanchard

Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.