The decision to bring a new person into your company is extremely important. Done correctly, the new hire can potentially bring in significant additional revenues, new customers, new partnerships and innovative new ideas. Done poorly, hiring the wrong person can be an extremely expensive mistake that could set you back months and potentially do long-term damage to your business. Therefore, I’d like to give you a little bit of advice on what I feel are some essential ideas and tools for hiring right.
The first thing I’d like to share with you is that the quality of the people you get, grow and keep on your team will be one of the most important factors in determining the long-term success of your business. There’s an old cliché that says people are your most important asset, but that’s wrong. Your best people are your most important asset and your worst people are your biggest liability, so you need to be very careful and effective in how you go about hiring new employees.
Whenever I counsel a business owner about the hiring process, there are a few things I strongly recommend they do:
1. Create a very specific list of the values, skills, talents and attitude you are looking for in the new hire. Make this list before you interview anyone so it is complete before you get emotionally connected or invested in a candidate. Write down the short list of things that the employee you are going to hire MUST possess. These are nonnegotiable, and it doesn’t matter how much you like the person; this is the short list of key skills and attributes that anyone who fills the job absolutely must demonstrate — PERIOD!
2. Read some books or get some training on interviewing techniques. Most of the business people I’ve come across are pathetic at doing a thorough job of asking superb interviewing questions and knowing what to look for in a candidate. The list you have created in step one will help you form an agenda for asking questions, but the key here is for the candidate to spend 90 percent of the time talking while the interviewer is taking exceedingly good notes, watching body language and asking additional probing questions.
3. I’m also a big fan of team interviewing, which involves getting a candidate who has made it past the first round to spend some time with the people they would work for, the people they would work with and the people who would work for them. This allows you to get feedback from everyone on how they feel the candidate would fit into your workplace culture. Important: Anyone who interviews a candidate should have some level of training on how to conduct a professional interview. You want to make sure that they ask good questions, the right questions and no questions that would get your company into trouble.
4. A few years ago, I attended a conference of 400+ CEOs discussing hiring, retaining and growing top talent. After we came together for dozens of workshops, panel discussions and lots of dialogue, the group of senior leaders came up with two key ideas on hiring:
- Hire for values match, attitude and aptitude — train for skills. As long as the person is a good fit for your culture, has the “must-have” skills for the job, and he or she shows the ability to learn, you should always hire the person with the best attitude. However, if someone does not have good values and/or has a bad attitude, there is no book you can give them, no class you can send them to, and no seminar they can attend that will turn a person who lies or has a bad attitude into a positive and productive employee.
- Hire slow — fire fast. Even if you are in emergency mode and desperately need someone to fill a gap in your business, I urge you to take the time to find the right person and not just hire the first person who walks in the door (unless they truly are a great fit). Employee turnover is expensive. By the time you bring someone on board, train them up, fill out all the paperwork and get them in your system…you have invested a tremendous amount of time, energy, resources and money. If you have to terminate them or they quit within a few weeks or months, it’s costly all the way around.
JOHN SPENCE has been recognized as one of the top 100 business thought leaders and as one of the top 500 leadership development experts in the world. He is an international keynote speaker and management consultant and has written five books on business and life success. www.johnspence.com