Contact Sales - 972-961-4798
Accelerating Change. Engaging Staff.
Infinite Software Solutions.
Symphony Protection Report Training Plaques Web Banners Articles

Read our articles.

Becoming An Employer of Choice

Your strategy to hire right the first time, every time


Perhaps the greatest mystery in business is the perplexing process of interviewing and hiring top talent.

Interviews are stressful for everyone. The applicant is nervous about giving the “right” answers and wondering if they really want the job. The interviewer is probably on edge hoping they don’t make a hiring mistake.

Studies by organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) predict replacing an employee costs 6 to 9 months’ salary. For example, replacing an individual making $40,000 a year will cost $20,000 to $30,000 to replace. Some studies put the cost as high as twice their annual salary.

Hiring right is one of the most significant investments of time, energy and money for every agency.

Advertise the right job

Never lose sight of a business critical part of the search for top talent. Top talent never has to settle for second best. Traditional job positions result in traditional talent. If you want different hiring results, write a job description with words that captivate, compel and interest top talent.

The title is like the headline in a newspaper article. Editors understand they have less than 5 seconds to capture someone’s attention. Keep your title short but include the name of the position and one to three specific items capable of capturing the attention of the top talent you target. Next, write a paragraph with an emotional focus that includes what the applicant can expect from the position. This paragraph inspires the applicant by including three to five details they will find most exciting about the job. Add one more paragraph explaining the specific skills needed for the position.

Here is an example of a job posting for a Personal Lines CSR/Account Manager responsible for both writing business and service: 

Job Description: “Catalyst Insurance is excited to announce an opening for a remarkable and memorable individual to join our team as a Personal Lines CSR. The primary responsibility is to fulfill our customer’s request to become their personal protection team by writing and retaining the coverage needed to protect their hard earned lifestyle. This position also includes providing for outstanding customer service delivering an unforgettable customer experience. The individual we are looking for is inspired by the insurance industry and will inspire our staff and customers with their enthusiasm. Individuals just looking for a job need not apply.”

Job Skills: Skills required for this position include speaking Spanish, proficiency with AMS 360, proficiency with Microsoft Office 2016 and a license for Personal Lines.”

Would you want to work at Catalyst Insurance? If so, then you successfully painted a picture that interests the “right” people you want on your bus and leads to disinterest with the “wrong” people.

Provide skills checklist

Before scheduling the first interview, it is essential to determine if the applicant meets the minimum skills standards for the position. The skills checklist establishes the “hat” anyone filling the position must wear. If the hat doesn't fit 100%, don’t interview and absolutely don’t hire.

Mary is an agency owner in Texas. Her position needed a licensed individual with the ability to speak Spanish.She called to ask my thoughts on an applicant she thought would be perfect, except for the fact that she didn’t speak Spanish.  I simply asked, “If your applicant doesn’t speak Spanish, why are you investing time interviewing her.The hat doesn’t fit.” I also passed along a critical principle in business, “The more you know about your vision, mission and purpose of your business, the fewer options you have in running and growing your business.”

Follow these step-by-step instructions to hire right the first time.

  1. The "Do you fit our agency values?” interview

The initial interview determines how the applicant will fit in your agency’s culture and values. You are also looking for indicators that the applicant is flexible, teachable and willing to learn new ways of doing their job.

The most effective way to conduct the interview is via web conference. Many applicants have a traditional background which means they also probably have a traditional approach to doing their job. While individuals with thirty years of experience certainly have value they may lack the flexibility to needed for the position. This is especially true considering the necessity of attracting millennials as customers. This immense target group lives online, making it essential that you employ staff who understands the online world.

According to Josh Erwin’s article in online conferencing provider PGI’s article, “Online interviewing is a trend on the rise, and HR is constantly having to reinvent itself to keep up with modern technology trends.” Erwin goes on to report, “Online job interviews have increased by 49% since 2011 and 66% of candidates prefer to use video during the interview process.” The following questions are recommended for this interview.

  • Why are you looking for a job today?

  • What did you learn about our agency to prepare for this interview?

  • Please explain in your own words your understanding of the position you are interviewing for today.

  • What words would you use to describe the culture you most want to work in?

  • What is one thing you believe our agency can learn from you?

  • What is one thing you believe you can learn from our agency?

  • How would you use social media and other electronic communication to increase customer loyalty and improve customer service?

  • How will you use your time on a day in which you are caught up with all service work?

  • Do you prefer a fixed compensation plan or a performance based compensation plan where you make more money based on your performance?

If the applicant does not satisfactorily answer these questions, do not schedule the next interview.

  1. The “How will you follow agency standards?” interview

The second interview is conducted in the agency to determine if the applicant is able and willing to do the job you need by following agency standards and procedures.

Colaborative Hiring

In my younger years as General Manager for a national retail specialty store company I strongly felt that hiring new staff was important and that I was the only one capable of taking on such a responsibility. The place of employees shifted significantly in the 1980s and my feeling was that collaborating with my employees in the hiring process was a sign of weakness.After all, I was the manager.What did my employees really know? Thirty five years later I realize I was wrong.

According to Gallup polls, only one in three employees is truly engaged with their job. I also discovered that involving staff in the hiring process let them know that they are the true experts in doing their job. By recognizing their expertise they feel valued, important and personally responsible for making decisions that benefit the agency.

Objective of the second interview

These questions are designed to determine if the applicant is teachable, if they are willing to learn to do their job differently and to observe their overall demeanor in an agency setting.

  • How comfortable would you be if you failed 25% of the time in your first six months?

  • If a customer premium increases by 20% or more, could you in all good conscience tell them they are better off remaining with your agency even though they will pay more for their insurance?

  • Would you create an activity in our agency management system at the time you talk with a customer/prospect or would you enter the information later?

  • If the customer/prospect only asks for one policy such as Auto, do you prefer to include a quote for additional lines of business such as Homeowner with the original quote or follow-up at a later time to round out the account?

  • If you have a month where no requests for quotes are received from the internet, call-ins, walk-ins or email, how would you plan to achieve your goal for writing new business?

  • How comfortable would you be quoting a carrier with higher premiums if that carrier is a preferred carrier for the agency?

  • On average, if you talk with ten customers or prospects for personal lines quotes, how many people would you refer to someone for a life quote?

If the applicant does not satisfactorily answer these questions, do not proceed to the next part of the interview.

  1. The “Show and Tell” interview

The best indicator of how an applicant will perform their job is to have them demonstrate how they will do their job. The “Show and Tell” interview takes the place of a third interview. Here are suggestions for actions the applicant can demonstrate. Use role-play as needed to observe their performance.

  • Answer the next phone call.

  • Respond to an angry customer.

  • Recommend limits

  • Respond to a request for a quote

  • Handle a cancellation

  • Ask for a testimonial

  • Schedule an account review

  • Offers additional lines of business not asked for

  • Ask for a referral to other departments such as Personal Lines, Commercial Lines and Life/Benefits.

  • Follow-up with an underwriter regarding a past due endorsement

  • Locate information about a product on a carrier’s website

  • Add documentation in the agency management system.

  1. The “Offering the position” interview

If the applicant demonstrates they are willing to follow agency policies and procedures and has demonstrated their ability to do the job, it’s time to make a job offer.

Several considerations are a part of your job offer:

  • Sufficient compensation so applicant can pay the bills.

  • Clear track for how they will do their job.

  • Confidence in regular and personal communication and feedback.

Attracting top talent is most effective when offering a performance based compensation plan.Compensation based on results rather than efforts benefits the agency and the employee.

  1. Probation period

The probation period is an essential part of the hiring process.The objective is to provide a specific length of time for the applicant to demonstrate their willingness and ability to fill the position.

Create specific targets for the applicant by assigning goals for approximately seven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to be achieved during the probation period. Many of the tasks in the “Show & Tell” interview will make excellent KPIs.

Next assign a maximum score for each KPI. Your maximum score should total 100 points. Explain to the applicant that a position will be offered at the end of the period providing they score 95+ on the evaluation score.

In order to calculate the evaluation score, multiply the maximum score by the percentage each KPI goal is achieved. The maximum score is capped even if the KPI goal is exceeded.

For example, let’s say the KPI goal is 10 and the actual score is 9.If the maximum score is 15 the final score for the KPI is 13.5 (15 * 90%).

Following a systematic approach to interviewing and hiring new staff releases the pressure felt by both parties.A systematic approach also increases the probability of adding the right person to your team.


Catalyst is a software company providing technology, training and resources to the insurance industry/strong>

3301 Bucknel  Rowlett, TX     972-961-4798