On Hiring Great People


by Richard Baxter, Built Visible

hiringAs a member of our team mentioned on Twitter last night, we’re always hiring. We’re always hiring because fortunately, we’re always growing. This is good.

Getting good people through the door is quite difficult. You need to attract the right people, encourage them to want to enquire, or consider moving on from wherever they may be.

Then, assuming you’ve got an interview set up, you’re at risk from missing the mark during the interview, and bringing the wrong individual into your team.

It happens to anyone recruiting, building a team, especially in early start up phases – it’s not that people are bad or the hire is bad, it’s simply that somewhere along the recruitment process, something that got missed has now become an issue that holds an individual back from realising their true potential in an organisation. If you’re anything like I was in our early days, this idea makes you feel nervous. It’s a big decision, hiring!

Mismatched expectations, assumptions about an individual, and their assumptions about an organisation can lead to failure and expensive, time consuming replacement hiring.

So with all this said, I don’t think hiring well is difficult. Over the last few years I think I’ve refined my hire decisioning down to just a few golden rules.

If you’re hiring, and you consider these rules, you’ll be fine.

Let’s imagine you’re working on the basis that you think you’ve got a good candidate in front of you. You know they have the skills (because you’ve tested), but how can you be sure they’ll be great in your company?

I ask myself these questions:

Does this candidate have a story?

People who have achieved something in their lives, outside of their professional career are really interesting to me. That achievement doesn’t have to be particularly obvious; it simply needs to demonstrate characteristics, like perseverance, discipline and commitment. You might think I’m crazy to say this, but in my opinion people with some sort of background, be it sporting, artistic, academic or musical tend to bring an ability to dedicate and focus that is extremely desirable. Very competitive people tend to be very competitive on the job, too.

Will this individual fit in with the existing organizational culture?

I sometimes ask myself, “who is this individual most like in our team?”. Very often, the person you’re talking to in an interview will have a few traits that remind you of someone else you work with. It might sound weird, but think about it – successful people do tend to have similar traits. What are those? They’re hard to define initially, so think about the people in your business who are already achieving great things, and then try to duplicate that in your hiring selection criteria.

Would I like to learn something from this person?

What does this individual bring to your team? Will your company be smarter and more agile as a result of this person joining your company? Sometimes people bring skills and knowledge that you would really like to learn for yourself. That’s definitely a good thing in a junior hire and absolutely critical in senior level hires.

Finally, I always remind my team: if you have any reservations about a candidate, anything at all, address them or don’t recruit. Small reservations in an interview evaluation sometimes turn into big problems down the line.

If you think about it, you can catch yourself ignoring your concerns, particularly when you desperately need more people resources! The more you need people, the more willing you are to get the hiring process completed, at whatever cost. That’s something you should really think about.

So, they’re my golden rules – if you’re in front of someone you think you’d like to hire, then asking yourself questions like this can really make a difference in the decision making process.

Share It