Make the Most out of Your Hiring
Last month, I wrote about the importance of putting together an effective team. The key to doing that is to hire the right people. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s not.
The most difficult thing that I have done over the past 30 years is trying to hire the right people. In fact, I have probably interviewed 500 prospective employees, hired well over 100 and currently have a staff of about 40 people. I wish that I could say that I have learned how to always hire the right people. Unfortunately, I can’t. Nobody can.
Think about it. You desperately want to hire someone for your team.
You are a busy person; you don’t have a lot of extra time in your life. You have things that need to get completed for your clients. You have just made the decision to hire a new person for your team, or you have just had an existing person on your team quit. It doesn’t matter, you need to hire somebody quickly and you don’t want to spend a lot of time, because you don’t have the time to spend.
So, you run an ad, or post on Facebook, LinkedIn, or some other on line way of putting the word out. You ask your existing staff, or your clients, friends and family if they know somebody who would be interested in the position. Then, hopefully, you get a slew of responses from interested people.
You then start reviewing resumes, and make phone calls, in an effort to determine who you should invite in for an interview. Then, you finally do the interviews.
You have your standard list of questions that you want to ask these job seekers. You have items circled on their resume. You are prepared to do battle in your effort to find the right new team member. But you don’t. Instead, you begin the interview by asking your questions and sometimes you decide quickly that this person isn’t the right one and you move on.
But, most of the time, unfortunately, you find yourself liking the candidate and you like what they are telling you. You begin to think that you have found the right person and instead of staying focused on determining if your candidate truly has the skills that you are looking for, you begin to sell them on why they should work for you.
You describe your firm’s attributes and how they will fit into your team. You begin to worry that maybe they are interviewing elsewhere and you don’t want to lose them, so you start to forget about sticking to your standards and you decide to hire the person, because they are available now and you THINK they will fit in and do a good job.
If you can relate to this situation, don’t feel alone. Most, if not all, small employers have done this.
I know that I have done it more times than I want to count. This is not how you should hire someone. Most of the time, it doesn’t work out as you wanted. Sometimes, you recognize later that you made a mistake and you replace the person, but most of the time you settle for someone who isn’t exactly what you want, but they are nice and you don’t want to put them out of work. Unfortunately, you don’t get the team member you wanted and you don’t get the results you want either.
So, how do you avoid this situation?
First, you shouldn’t rush the process because you are busy, and overwhelmed. Find a way to deal with your current deadlines and day to day work. Ask your existing staff to work more hours, and let your clients know that you are short handed presently but that you are working to hire someone. Most clients will be very understanding.
Then, write a very detailed job description. Determine exactly what you expect from the position. Focus on the outcomes you want, not how to do the job. Answer the question, “What do I need this person to do, so that I will be able to achieve my business goals?” Are there particular skill sets or experience that you need this person to have on day one? Be focused and specific in your answer and incorporate those items into your job description.
As I wrote in my last article, in addition to certain skill sets, I expect everyone that I hire, in support positions, to meet the following criteria.
They have to be very smart, have positive attitudes, be problem solvers, be able to work independently, take pride in completing the work, and can self-train where necessary.
These are difficult qualities to determine during the interview process. Therefore, we utilize several written assessments in the hiring process. Different assessments are used to measure different aspects of a person’s behavior and thinking processes.
Additionally, we spend a lot of time utilizing the results of these assessments to determine how the individual might fit into our existing team. We also utilize an outside consultant who helps us evaluate the results of these assessments before offering any employment. I suggest you do the same and I would be glad to recommend ours.
We also have each new candidate meet the other team members in separate interviews and then get each person’s opinion as to how they think the candidate will fit into the team. This is important for two reasons: First, you get another set of critical eyes looking at the candidate. Secondly, you make your existing team members feel valued and invested into the new hire.
Lastly, we ask the candidate to perform a simple task such a making a pot of fresh coffee without any assistance. It sounds silly, but it shows me a couple of things.
First, is the candidate willing to do something totally unexpected at a job interview? If not, they probably won’t handle the many unexpected surprises that come up on a regular basis when dealing with clients. Additionally, it shows me whether the candidate can take the initiative to deal with and solve a problem, without training. Finally, as I enjoy a good cup of coffee, I will know whether they can make a good one!
The bottom line to all this is that you are doing the hiring, for a specific reason.
A good hire will be money and time well invested and should yield fabulous results. A bad hire can be very costly. So, take your time, don’t rush. Hire very slowly. Make sure that you, and everyone on your team is in agreement before hiring.
Finally, make a solemn pact with yourself not to settle for someone who doesn’t measure up, either before you hire them, or afterwards. You need the very best team members you can get!
The next step is to offer a great career path, compensation, benefits and working conditions so that you keep them with you!