Raise your hand if you love the hiring process! I don’t think most of us entrepreneurs like it much. Yet, if we want our businesses to grow, we have to do it. We can’t be everywhere, doing everything at once. We need help, and even though we might think we could do everything better than anyone else, it’s not humanly possible. So, we have to hire people to support us. But unfortunately, the way many of us hire creates more headaches than help.
One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make at first is hiring friends and family, often when those people don’t even have the skills we need. I know sometimes this works — but most of the time, it doesn’t. The people you love hiking with or sharing holidays with are not necessarily the best people to work with. And when it doesn’t work out? Your personal relationship makes it difficult to give honest feedback or let them go.
Even if we do the standard processes like having a clear job description and checking references, we can still hire the wrong person. In Hire for Attitude, author Mark Murphy writes, “46% of new hires fail in the first 18 months.” He also states that 89% failed because of their soft skills (communication, collaboration, attitude, etc.). So, no matter how great they look on paper, we also need a way to assess those soft skills. Here are some tips I’ve learned as my businesses have grown and I’ve added people to my team.
Related: How to Hire Like a Pro
Communicate who your company is
One of the most important characteristics you want in a new hire is that they share your company’s mission and values. As the leader of your business, you’re the one who sets that mission and those values. You’re the one who determines what kind of company culture you’ll have. Even more than a great skill set, how well aligned with your values determines whether they will work well within your company.
For example, my coaching and real estate businesses have always valued “serving our clients first.” Yes, we want to make money, and yes, we want to have efficient systems. But service comes before any of that. A person who doesn’t highly value service will never be successful on my team. Before hiring, I must clearly communicate that value, our mission and our culture to any new candidate.
Related: 5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring Your First Employee
Giving a great interview
I know many of us dread the interview process. The interviewee might be nervous, but we have just as much — or more! — on the line. Making the wrong decision not only costs us money, time and energy. We also have the “opportunity cost” of all the great things the right hire could have contributed!
Unfortunately, standard interview questions just don’t give us the information we need to make a good decision. Every job hunter has learned to answer those questions so that they look good. Instead of “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, you can:
Get creative. You can learn a lot by asking questions they don’t expect. For example, you can ask them questions like, “What natural talent were you born with?” or “Who was your hero growing up?” or “What type of movies do you like and why?” or “What’s your favorite kind of vacation and why?”
Meet the family: Your team must work together well, especially when you’re all working hard to build your business. Rather than doing just the solo interview, introduce them to others on the team. (Many of my team works virtually, so we do this on Zoom.) Pay attention to how they interact with everyone and how easily (or not) they seem to fit in.
Take a test drive: Find a way to see how they approach their work. For example, if I’m hiring a marketing person, I might have them look at one of our recent ads and ask how they would improve it. I might show an administrative candidate our video archive system and ask their opinion. Some kind of test drive can show you not only how their mind works but also how they communicate their ideas.
The 30-day “interview”
One of the best ideas I’ve heard recently comes from Eben Page, who says, “Hire slowly. Fire quickly.” He uses a process called the 30-day update. When he hires someone new, he tells them that he wants them to send him a brief email at the end of the day for the first 30 days answering three questions:
- What did they do that day, and what results did they get?
- What problems or challenges did they face?
- Do they have any questions?
Related: Hire Slow, Fire Fast
I love it! You not only get to see if they follow through on this simple request, but you get to understand them and see their work ethic, how they approach difficulties, and if they’re curious enough to ask questions. If they do not follow through with the emails, that tells you something pretty significant too. At the end of 30 days, you have all the information you need to decide if that person is a good fit for your business.
Hiring can be scary and stressful. But to me, having to fire someone is even worse! So, it’s worth the effort to verify their hard skill set and spend time investigating soft skills as well. It isn’t just your great product or high-powered marketing that will cause your business to succeed. The people in your company, their attitude, energy and efforts will make your business flourish. Hire the right team, and running your business will be a joy!
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