The Most Overlooked Hiring Tool Every Ag Retailer Should Use

Hiring strategies that worked a few years ago are no longer as effective in an employment market in which candidates seem to have the upper hand. This challenge, combined with the high cost of a bad hire and recent surveys claiming that 60% to 80% of resumes include false information, is requiring hiring teams to alter their strategies for this changing game.


One of the most effective and valuable hiring tools we’ve implemented — the 100-day plan — is often overlooked by organizations. Also called the “30-60-90 plan,” “Q1 plan,” or “12-week plan,” each provides the same strategy and can enhance the success of your hiring process. The 100-day plan is the final step in the interview process and is implemented once a manager has completed interviews and the decision has all but been made. This extra step can provide the insight needed to more accurately determine an employee’s fit and boost their potential for success on your team.

The tool’s success is a result of its ability to accomplish three things. First, it gives the hiring team valuable insight into the candidates’ understanding of the role, in addition to their writing, speaking, and ability to plan. Secondly, the candidates gain confirmation that their thoughts align with the potential manager, and they are given a clear outline of their first 100 days. Finally, the manager gains the foundation of a ready-made and customized onboarding plan.

The 100-Day Plan Set-up

The ideal time to ask for the candidate to create a plan for their first three months is immediately following your final interview step. Depending on your process, your message can be delivered in person or via email. The message you provide the candidate can be something like this:

“Chris, I really enjoyed our conversation today, and would like to move forward with the final step in our interview process. This step is for you to create a plan for your first 100 days on the job. Building this plan will help you think through the aspects of the role and how you plan to accomplish the targets we discussed. Additionally, this plan will serve as a guide for both of us to ensure your first 100 days are as successful as possible.

In each of our conversations, we have discussed our expectations for your first year in this role. I want you to use those discussions to consider what you will need to learn and accomplish during your first 100 days in order to be on track for your annual goal.”

Once you’ve delivered this message, there are a few things you can do next. Some organizations provide a template to help the candidate focus on the right tasks and keep the plans somewhat consistent. Other managers may provide simple guidelines, such as “your plan must include A, B, and C,” allowing the candidates to use or create their own formats. Others say or provide nothing at all and leave it in the hands of the candidate. Regardless of which method you use, it needs to stay consistent across your organization and provide insight into the specific things you are looking for as part of the process. For example, providing a template might be the best method if your employees will not be asked to design and lead a planning process. However, if hiring a head of sales, you may want to leave the plan up to them to learn about their planning style and process, as they will likely incorporate some of those methods into their team.

The most important step in this process is to have the candidates discuss their plans with you. If this role requires the employee to make presentations, you may elect to have candidates deliver them as presentations to see their speaking and presentation skills in addition to their plans. For others, simple one-on-one meetings might provide the most benefit.

Allowing candidates to present their plans gives you the ability to listen and watch for details that will confirm hiring fit or prevent hiring mistakes. This would be difficult, if not impossible, to get from simply reading plans that were emailed to you. While listening to the candidates discuss their plans, there are a few key things you should be looking for:

  • How well did they listen in previous conversations? Did they remember and apply the expectations, processes, timing, etc., that were discussed? Was it accurate?
  • Did they do their homework? In addition to the information you provided, did the candidates provide evidence of going beyond your discussions to learn and apply more information (company/market/customer) into their plans?
  • Do their presentations meet your communication needs? If this role requires communication skills, this is your opportunity to review their writing, speaking, and listening skills to ensure they will meet your expectations. Will this person represent your organization at the level you desire?
  • Does it feel generic? Did they invest the time to create a high-quality plan? Or did they short-cut the process and copy and paste something they found on the internet? A shortcut here is a good sign of more to come.
  • How well does their thought process align with yours? Do their goals and strategies fit with the activities you want them to focus on? If not, are they adjustable and coachable?

It’s important to wait until the end of their presentations to ask questions and understand the basis of their plans. Odds are they’ve made some incorrect assumptions, and that’s OK. This is your opportunity to help them understand where things (their ideas) are off target and see what adjustments they suggest once they see things (your organization) differently. You can add ideas and suggestions to their plans, but it’s important to keep these their plans and not convert them to your plan for them.

Next Steps

If everything goes well with the 100-day plan process, you are well prepared to get them onboard. By effectively implementing this strategy, you have enhanced your employee selection process and accuracy, gained valuable insights into the candidate’s style, goals, and passion, and have set up yourself and the new employee for an excellent first three months on the job. (Note: This info is highly valuable when you can remind them of how well they match, while extending the offer!)

The 100-day plan hiring strategy is simple, adaptable, and highly effective. There are few strategies available that can provide this amount of insight into a candidate, and I encourage you to give it a try.

This is our second article in the “Four Cornerstones of Talent Management” series. In our next article, we will discuss how to implement the 100-day plan and other effective strategies in the third cornerstone of talent management — “Employee Onboarding for Performance.”

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Avatar for George Bradt George Bradt says:

Great stuff. I’m thinking my book, “The New Leader’s 100-Day Plan” can help here.