BY ANDI GRAYDilemma: I am getting a firsthand lesson in just how hard it is to hire good people. Do you have any advice to offer or tips to follow?
Thoughts of the Day: When looking to fill gaps in your team’s talent pool, make sure every tool works well. Use interviews to find out if soft skills are present. Know your culture. Set aside plenty of time for getting to know the candidate. Avoid blamers. Look for drive and ambition.
Before bringing in your next candidate, check your company’s profile on Glassdoor. Then, take a look at current employees listed on the company’s website, especially anyone who will interact with the candidate, and be aware of how they come across in the virtual world. Savvy candidates will be researching and watching your company just as closely as you are looking into them. They want to see websites that are up to date, social media posts that are informative and relevant to the business, people they would benefit from networking and aligning themselves with, and an active, accurate brand representation that is worthy of their time and effort.
Emotional intelligence and the ability to focus are intertwined. Can candidates demonstrate a high degree of both? Do they stay on point and keep their cool as they try to learn more about your company and tell you about themselves? If you’re seeking chauffeur applicants, remember that there are things you can teach—quickest routes, ways to tell when a passenger feels like talking and when they don’t, how you want them to represent your company—and things you can’t. Think of your best chauffeurs and the ways you tested for the “servant’s heart” they need to embody. For office staff, consider what redundancies are needed, any voids in coverage that need to be accounted for, and even what elements of your company culture are healthy and what needs changing. What do you need from your new hires to help kick-start that shift in the latter?
Use a detailed job description to check for learned skills. But balance the search for hard skills with the need to find people who can contribute to your company’s culture. If you’re not sure what your company’s culture is all about—really about, not just what you think it is—turn to current and former employees, clients, and vendors for help and an honest opinion. Make a list of key words that describe the ideal culture to support and execute your mission, and see how many of those terms your candidates use.
Think through your company’s style of working. Do people arrive early and leave late, or vice versa? Do they take long or short lunches—or skip them entirely? Do your meetings run long or are they on the shorter side? When new information and updates need to be delivered to your team, are they shared orally in large group meetings, addressed in one-on-one discussions, or circulated in written reports? What kind of work environment have candidates done well in, and how does that compare to your company’s actual setting?
Consider the peers this candidate will have to fit in with. Are they formal or informal, fast-paced or slow? Are they quick to reach conclusions or do they err on the side of being more deliberative? Do they collaborate and inform, or take leaps of faith and apologize later? Keep in mind that diversity of background and approach can be valuable. If you’re looking for a disrupter, make sure they also have the accountability, capability, and leadership ability to bring others along with them.
Everyone tends to let their hair down in social settings. If you want to alleviate some of the interview jitters to see what kind of person they are, go out for lunch or dinner to get to know candidates better. Have multiple people conduct interviews to see how your potential hires interact with different personalities and in various circumstances.
Look critically at references. Do they really paint an accurate picture of the candidate? Are they willing and able to share what they know? Make sure they understand you’re trying to help this candidate find the best opportunity for them as well as for you.
Avoid blamers. Some people will not look below the surface to find out what’s holding them back, which impedes learning and progress. If it’s always someone else’s fault when bad things happen, steer clear.
Look for people who have done unusual things to get ahead. Whether it’s taking on extracurricular activities in school or accepting extra projects at work, look below the surface. What kind of work did they excel at and what motivated them? Did they take on risks and additional workload because it was imposed on them, or because they were self-motivated?
It is a time-consuming investment to vet applicants for your available positions. But it is better to do your homework at the beginning than clean up the mess an unqualified hire left before you start the entire cycle all over again. [CD0917]
Andi Gray is the Founder of the business consulting firm Strategy Leaders. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.