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“Bill, you’re hired.” And with those words, Donald Trump booted Kwame Jackson, our favorite candidate from NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

What’s interesting is not so much Jackson getting aced out, but why. Three words: Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, an employee on his team, who, 24/7, created team discord. According to The Donald, Manigault-Stallworth may have lied to Jackson, twice. Trump wanted to know why Jackson didn’t fire her. Because The Donald thought Jackson should have fired her, and Jackson didn’t, he lost. Jackson did not lose it though; Manigault-Stallworth lost it for him.

Hiring decisions matter — a lot — and the general counsel’s office is often in the thick of it, especially when C-level executives are being hired. So here are five strategies on hiring because it’s always easier to keep someone out of the company ranks than to get someone out.

Strategy No. 1: How the way something is said is just as important as what is said.

People don’t change; they only reveal themselves. But, they leave clues as to their true selves during the interview process. And they do so from how they express themselves. Here are a couple of thoughts. Listen for verbs. Verbs are the muscles of sentences. They communicate a lot. Verbs are actions words, and when a candidate uses them in describing her experiences, it means a lot. If she says that at her previous job “I supported” or “I helped manage,” the antennae of the interviewer should go up. The candidate may be extremely passive, not a self-starter. By contrast, if she says things such as, “I ran a department” or “I found a new market,” that shows valuable experience, being a self-starter and accepting accountability.

The same holds true when reviewing a rÈsumÈ: Beware of ambiguous phrasing. Sometimes candidates are just a little too disingenuous. For instance, if a rÈsumÈ is loaded with phrases such as “had exposure to,” “had knowledge of” and “assisted with,” then the interviewer’s job is to figure out specifically what those phrases meant in relation to the job. Also, have you ever heard a phrase such as “attended school?” Last time we checked Webster’s Dictionary, “attended” and “graduated” have two different definitions.

Finally, take a hint from Jeffrey E. Christian, who suggests in “The Headhunter’s Edge” to count the number of times the candidate says “we.” His point: “The kind of manager who does not give credit to his team is the sort of person with something to prove. . . . Honesty is a crucial test of leadership, and the easiest way to see if it is valued by a manager is to listen to his tales of success.” One caveat: Don’t let the “royal we” cover up a candidate’s failure to meaningfully be involved in a project. Always drill down to the details.

Strategy No. 2: Don’t go it alone.

If there is a bigger waste of interviewing time than serial interviews — going from one person’s office to the next person’s office to the next — we don’t know what it is. It’s like a long, endless day of bad first dates. Be counterintuitive: Try panel interviews.

Being a timesaver is only one of the virtues of a panel interview. It gets more information (less idle chit-chat), lets individual interviewers get a chance to reflect upon the answers (one questions while others listen and vice versa), and neutralizes the “halo effect” (a diverse panel is less likely to let similar life experiences canonize the candidate).

Use Your Head

Strategy No. 3: The trinity of hiring: joy, integrity, relationships.

Look for textured answers ones with pertinent detail, authenticity and evidence of a hands-on, “I’ve-been-in-the-trenches-myself” attitude. First, hire for joy. Is this person truly going to relish getting up in the morning and coming to work? Lou Adler, in the second edition of “Hire With Your Head: Using POWER Hiring to Build Great Companies,” suggests the following questions to get at the candidates real experience:

* Think about a favorite work experience, something you felt was exciting, energizing and personally fulfilling. Please describe it, and tell me why it was personally satisfying.

* You’ve indicated to me that you’re a real problem-solver. Can you give me three examples of types of problems you like to solve?

* Can you give me three examples of initiative in one or more of your recent positions? This would be something you did over and above the requirements of the job, or something you changed or improved.

And don’t forget integrity. A company can always train employees for job knowledge, but it can’t necessarily impart a strong ethical compass. It’s there or it isn’t. Our favorite questions to get at the candidate’s ethical core:

* Ask candidates to describe difficult situations they encountered and how they went about successfully resolving the problem and what they learned from it.

” Then ask them about a difficulty they encountered, why they think they failed to resolve it successfully and what they learned from it.

Not only will the interviewer see how quickly candidates think on their feet, but the interviewer also will get a sense of the attributes the candidates bring to the job. The bottom line? All experiences in life are good ones — if you draw the right lessons from them.

Finally, interview for relational competence. That’s one of the keys to Dallas-based Southwest Airlines’ success as described in “The Southwest Airlines Way: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance” by Jody Hoffer Gittell. It’s a penetrating and insightful study of how teamwork builds a great company. Gittell talks about how Southwest uses behavioral interviewing. (Same is true for JetBlue Airways, by the way.) Gittell says that a candidate is asked to recall an incident from a previous work experience in which she worked with others to solve a problem. After going through the facts with the candidate, the interviewers then bore down in detail (no barroom generalities or conclusions permitted) on what occurred what happened next, how did others react, what was the outcome of the incident? Multiple interviewers then rate the candidate. If the candidate is unanimously rated highly by the multiple interviewers, he or she gets a green light to proceed in the interview process. If not, then the candidate’s skill sets are best used elsewhere.

Strategy No. 4: Check references.

For executive-level jobs, don’t just talk to somebody on the telephone. Go ahead and meet with the reference in person. And be creative. When you call references, do it first thing in the morning (say, 7 a.m.) or late a night (say, 7 p.m.). Most likely, the voicemail of the person listed as a reference will pop up. That’s the idea: Leave a message explaining why the company is calling and that you would like a call back. Then, see what happens. If four out of five call back, even if they just say that the company policy on references is to provide only name, rank and serial number, that’s still a good sign. If only one or two out of five call back, that’s a sign of concern.

For a laundry list of reference-checking questions, look at Adler’s book.

Strategy No. 5: Look outward, look inward.

While that sounds a little Zen-like, this is a key strategy. When reviewing, look at the following:

* Longevity. Has the top candidate been the top candidate at lots of places?

* The ladder. Has the candidate been making steady progress up the corporate ladder, and is coming to your company the next logical step up? Remember this: People are either running from something or to something.

* Look at old files. If a name sounds familiar on a rÈsumÈ, it just may be that he or she applied and was rejected several years ago. If the candidate didn’t make the cut the first time around, he or she isn’t going to be any better the second time around, right?

Then, look inward. Look at the company’s long-term goals. Think long and hard about the qualities for the position that the candidate must fulfill and how the position fits into the company’s overall marketing strategy, business plan or mission statement. Look at the workplace. Each company has a culture, and when it’s culture versus an employee who doesn’t fit in, culture always wins. And look in the mirror. If there has been a lot of turnover in positions, instead of looking for the perfect employee, the company should spend time and effort trying to make itself something a little closer to the perfect employer.

The news from all the number-crunchers is good. Companies are ready to start hiring again, and right now it’s an employer’s market. So when hiring, general counsel have leverage. Use it to the company’s advantage. Review the hiring policies and procedures with managers. Make changes, if needed, so that company representatives thoroughly check out candidates before offering the job. Then hire the best.

Michael P. Maslanka is a partner in and chairman of the labor and employment section at Godwin Gruber in Dallas. Theresa M. Gegen is a participating associate with the firm. Maslanka and Gegen are board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. They write the Texas Employment Law Letter and Texas Workers’ Comp. Reporter . For more information about these publications visit HRhero.com.

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