If you lead an organization or a team, hiring is something that you absolutely must get right.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula that you can plug in to decide whether someone is right for your team or a trainwreck waiting to happen. So how do you master something that’s not an exact science?
The best people at hiring that I’ve seen have all discovered the same secret: Good hiring hinges on removing as many unknowns as possible.
Put another way, during interviews, great leaders ask themselves, “Will this person fit? Will they make it?” And as they interview and vet candidates, they look for ways to remove the unknowns surrounding those questions. I’ve learned that getting rid of unknowns for new hires boils down to four C’s. If you do your due diligence in these four areas, you’ll eliminate the unknowns and be able to make rock-star hires with confidence
Will the person I’m interviewing fit in? Knowing your staff culture and interviewing around it are key to removing this unknown. Good staff culture leads to collaboration, and that’s the direction all startups are going. 88% of millennials want collaboration and “work-life integration” in their workplace. You must adapt to that mentality or your business won’t last.
Devaluing or ignoring culture is now an archaic way of thinking, and the older generations who have held on to that mindset are on their way out. If you’re looking for energy, new ideas, growth, and youth in your company, you must filter your hires through a culture lens.
Bottom line: if you want your business to attract the best and brightest candidates, you must know your culture, and know who fits it well. Even more, you have to constantly guard and build the good parts of your culture. Put culture front-and-center in your hiring process, and you’ll know during the interview whether or not your candidate will make it. Make sure you know how the candidate will fit with your staff culture before deciding one way or another.
This one may seem obvious, but people often miss the forest for the trees here. Clearly, the question, “Can this person do the job they’re applying for?” is an unknown that must be removed if you’re going to figure out if they will make it. There’s an old saying in staffing that I believe in more and more the longer I do this work: “The best indicator of future performance is past performance.” When interviewing, be sure to ask questions about tasks and initiatives the candidate has excelled in before, particularly ones that parallel the skillset needed on your team.
I recently learned that leadership skills arise in a person by about the 3rd grade (hopefully, they grow from there, but they often become evident by then). Don’t focus all competency questions on work history. Find out what they were like on the elementary school playground. Discover what leadership they took in high school. While this may not reveal if they have the technical skills and competencies you need, it will reveal some of the soft skills needed for most high-level positions.
Finally, remember that competency goes beyond specific skills. In fact, with the exception of highly technical trade skills (think brain surgery or coding), I believe that most skills can be taught or learned. What cannot be taught is the competency of being a self-motivated problem-solver. Does the candidate bring both the skillset and mindset needed for the role? Ask candidates to give examples of times they had to figure out solutions to problems that they had never seen before. Finding people who are competent beyond what their job title is will turn your business into something special.
When I was younger and thought I knew everything, I used to hire almost entirely based on talent and what was on the resume. I wanted the people who looked the best on paper. The “fit” didn’t matter so much; in my mind, it was something that we could figure out down the road. And that mindset almost ruined everything for my team. The longer I help organizations build their teams, the more I pay attention to this question, “How well does this person play with others?” Sounds elementary, but it’s imperative that leaders answer that unknown before making a hire.
To be sure, talent ought to be a significant factor in your decision-making, but it shouldn’t be the end all. Chemistry is vitally important, both for organizational health and culture. Just look at USA Olympic basketball: the best players come together to compete, but there’s always an awkwardness that Mike Krzyzewski has to massage out in practices before they get into a rhythm as a team. Why? Because it’s a bunch of guys that never play together. Even the highest level of talent needs chemistry. Poor chemistry turns into lack of unity, which will inevitably create a toxic work environment. On the other hand, good chemistry elevates everyone’s game. Take time in the hiring process to make sure that potential candidates fit well with your current staff. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Character is the last and arguably most important unknown to figure out. You could hire a candidate with a great resume who is charismatic and understands the culture of your company, but you could still have things go horribly wrong. It’s an age-old question: “What do I do with a brilliant jerk?” Is hiring an extremely talented person worth it if they lack character? As Netflix points out in their culture deck, the cost to effective teamwork outweighs the talent a brilliant jerk brings.
Nobody’s perfect, but if you find that a candidate is deceptive in one area of their life, you can bet they will be at your company as well. If you can’t ensure that a candidate has high character and integrity on the frontside of the hiring process, you run the risk of getting burned on the backside. People who have a track record of dishonesty or laziness will most likely display those qualities at some point in their time at your company, usually to the detriment of your business. Be thorough in reference checks. Don’t cut corners. Spending a little extra time doing your homework in the hiring process will pay dividends in the long run. Character is something you must be sure on before pulling the trigger on a new hire.
In staffing, any unknowns will come back to bite you. When it comes to finding and hiring high-capacity people for your team, make sure you know these four C’s. It will keep your company safe, help you sleep better at night, and pave the way to a great team and culture.
This article was written by William Vanderbloemen from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.