As I work with Entrepreneurs, Employers, and Middle Managers, one of the issues each of these groups deals with is hiring and retaining good people. It becomes difficult to make the right choice. Sometimes it is a tough pool of candidates to choose from. There are some great ones out there, but they cost too much. There are much less expensive options but they are inexperienced or unqualified. Once employers finally have a pool of candidates, the task becomes one of choosing who is best suited to fill the position. And, let’s face it… Entrepreneurs, Employers, and Middle Managers can have what looks like the absolute right person and find out weeks or months later the person doesn’t fit or is leaving.
We don’t live in a perfect world. However, we can take some steps to avoid the pitfalls of bad hiring. Below are 10 Keys to finding that right candidate. These can be quite helpful when you are ready to choose that next person right for your company.
Know yourself – What makes you tick? What kind of person are you? Are you task-oriented? Are you “laid back”? Do you need people to read your mind? Are you one who expects people to be self-motivated to figure out their tasks? Are you controlling? What do you expect of yourself? You need to answer questions like these. Why? You must know yourself so that you can hire both people like you and those who are a compliment to you and your personality. Long term hires create stability. By knowing yourself, you know who you can work with.
Know what you are looking for – What needs are you filling? What does the position require? Does the position you have open allow for some growth? Be sure you have a solid job description for your hire. Also, know whether or not the new hire needs to meet every bullet point listed on the job description. Some of my best hires have been people who did not fit the description exactly, but were the life-long learners, who brought fresh perspectives to the new position. Would this person be the right fit? What type of person are you looking for to fill this position (See #7)?
Get the person talking – You have to be careful here. There are EEOC laws at play. But the earlier you get open-ended questions out there and get them talking about themselves, the earlier you will know if this person has a chance with you and your company. Good questions to ask are: How do you handle stress? What do you expect in the way of benefits? How do you view “down time” in the workplace?
Have more than one interview – In his book EntreLeadership, Dave Ramsey calls this “The Thirty-minute Drive-by Interview”. Your first interview should be a short, get to know the applicant interview. It should be short (30 minutes or less). It should stay within the time frame you have set. It should have less information from you about your company and the position. You’re screening here. This short interview keeps you from wasting valuable time in the future. Ask questions and listen. Listen with these filters on: Listen for hints into the person’s character. Pay attention to attitude; about others in general, their former employer, life in general. Listen for pieces of themselves and their experience that fit your criteria. Listen for how educated they may be. Not formal education…you get that from the resume’. Are they articulate? Do they have a grasp of social interaction? How is their grammar? See past their nerves. Is this someone you can get along with?
Do you relate with this person? – In other words, do you like them? What was there “presence” like? Did you connect? The worst thing you could do is hire someone who meets all the qualifications, yet you do not like them. Save yourself the heartache and don’t ask them for a second interview if you do not like them.
Remember, you are filling a position and bottom line, they have to help the company – You may like this person. You may feel like you need to help this person out. But, you know in your gut, he/she does not qualify for the job. Connection is important as stated above, but you answer to your supervisor or your customers or both, and a wonderful person who is incompetent is a problem.
Know personality types – Before we go too far here, I want to note that this is not as influential to the process as those who push the different personality indicators would advocate. These days, there are so many different personality indicators out there from the DiSC model to StrengthsFinder. Your company may already use some sort of personality indicator. It is good to at least have a grasp of how you might categorize the person across from you. This not the deal-breaker for you, but it is good to have an idea how to see this person fitting your need. Remember first and foremost – this is still a human being sitting across from you and not just a certain type from a test or a book.
Does this person just want a paycheck? – This is quite important. Look for signs of desperation. Chances are, if he/she is desperate, then this will not be the right hire. Also, but not always related; if all the person is looking for is to make money, then it likely he/she will bring no joy to the job. This person begins to complain and blame and cause problems in the long run.
Transition – Recognize that hiring for a new position is a transition. You are either replacing someone with someone new or you are creating a new position. Either way, you are interjecting a new piece to your company puzzle. When looking at a replacement, do not replace. You are never going to find one like you had. You may even be upgrading (you may have fired to last person). The cool thing about transitions, you can try new things. You get to shape the position you are filling. This is exciting as you look for that type of person to fill the gap.
Get help/advice – Once you have some notes on the person or people you have interviewed, get some feedback from peers, supervisors, an outside coach. Don’t go this alone. Bounce your thoughts off of others.
These 10 Keys are by far not exhaustive, nor will they automatically bring you the next employee of the year. However, these Keys are a great framework to work from as you begin to find that next employee. Remember this: Do not separate your gut feelings from this process. They will serve you well.
Here are a few great interview questions you can use in the first interview to see if this person may or may not be a fit.
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- What are some of your greatest strengths?
- What are some of your weaknesses?
- How do you handle situations that make you angry?
- What would your previous employer list as your strengths?
- What would your previous employer list as your weaknesses?
- What contributions did you make in your previous position?
- What have you attempted and failed to accomplish?
- What do you know about our company?
- How do you see yourself contributing to our company?
- Give some examples of how you handled conflict.
- What do you look for in a supervisor?
- Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?
- Describe and give examples of your loyalty?
- What kind of reading to you do?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
- What have you done with your “down time” or “lulls” at work?
- Why do you want to work here with us?
- Why should we choose you for this position?
- What can you do for us that someone else cannot?
- If you had your own company, how would you lead the employees?
- What are your expectations for this position?
- If you were not to get this position, then would you be interested in another position with us?
- Do you have any questions? (They better, or you may not want to hire them)
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