Companies invest immense amounts of time and money into hiring employees. In fact, it costs approximately $8,000 and 18 hours of time to fill a role. Building a great team and retaining them is foundational to an organization's long-term success. This is why it’s imperative to have clarity that you’re hiring the best person for the role and that they intend to stick with your organization for the long haul.

To illustrate the impact of how important retention is to an organization, let’s use the sales department as an example. The average turnover in sales is 25-30%. This means that the equivalent of the entire sales organization must be hired and trained every four years or so, and that’s EXPENSIVE. Direct replacement costs for a sales employee can range from $40,000 to $70,000. Moreover, these figures don’t reflect the lost sales while a replacement is found.

Bottom line: organizations need a proactive approach to employee retention by reducing the frustration and cost of high turnover. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure you uncover the right candidates to start, and that begins with interviewing. What assurance do you have that a candidate intends to stick with your organization for the long haul? Here’s five qualities to look for that can improve retention down the line.

1.) Desire to Learn

Working with someone who thinks they have all the answers all the time isn’t fun. So, even if a candidate doesn’t have every single skill required for a job, bringing them into your organization can be worth the investment if they have a strong desire to learn and grow within their role.

Through training and professional development, employees can gain the skills needed to excel in their roles. If your company fosters this type of education, chances are the employee will be more eager to succeed and will have enhanced engagement in their role.

Here’s a few questions you can ask to gauge a candidate’s desire to learn:

1.) In your previous position, what specific skills or competencies did you seek out to better yourself and to help others better themselves?

2.) Describe a time when you realized you needed additional skills or knowledge to be successful. What was your approach to gaining these skills?

2.) Desire to Contribute

Seek out candidates who are looking for more than just a paycheck. Someone who’s just looking for a job is less likely to make any meaningful contributions, and the likelihood of retaining them is a gamble. Of course everyone has basic needs to be met, but your organization should actively pursue employees that are excited to dedicate time and energy to their role. When employees see that you're willing to take their suggestions, they’re more likely to feel happy at their place of work, thus furthering retention.

Here’s a few questions you can ask to gauge a candidate’s desire to contribute:

1.) What training opportunities did you pursue in your previous role?

2.) Give me an example of a time when you felt that you led by example. What did you do and how did others react?

3.) Longevity in Previous Roles

There’s one critical element on a resume that can predict an employee’s retention potential, and that’s dates of previous employment. Review two key things about their employment history:

1.) Does the candidate show growth and development within a business over multiple years? Upward movement demonstrates that the employee can persevere and carve out a path for themselves within your organization.

2.) Do you see many short stints of employment at various companies? This is a red flag, and you’d have to decide what makes your organization so different that you could retain the employee long-term. When in doubt, simply ask the employee about their job hopping.

You should also determine the candidate’s short and long-term goals. Ask the candidate to describe their plans for the next 12 months as well as their five-year career plan. If they don’t have a prepared response, it may mean they don’t plan ahead, which doesn’t bode well for job tenure.

4.) Passionate About the Field

Candidates should feel passionate about the industry in which they’re applying for a job. The more passionate they are about their field, the more likely they are to stick around. Since we referenced sales at the beginning of this post, let’s say you want to determine if someone is passionate about sales, ask them about a salesperson they look up to or the last sales-focused book they read. Don’t forget to follow up with a simple “why?”.

5.) Asks Good Questions

A candidate who is passionate and committed to taking on a role will have a bank of sincere and investigate questions ready. They’re likely to ask questions that reveal how well they’d fit into the position and will attempt to find out more in-depth information about your business (as opposed to someone who strictly asks about time off or the pay structure). Look out for candidates who ask questions that show a real, genuine interest in the role.

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