I have been blessed to work with some fantastic teams over my career. I feel like my current teams at Pragmatic Works are real dream teams! As we grew quickly, not everyone was the right fit and, with hindsight, I believe we could have avoided those situations, which would have been better for all involved. Having someone leave your firm is never a good situation because it means that all involved probably could have done something better. I want to share a special credit to Mike Davis (@mikedavissql) who has helped us mature this process over the years!
Hiring and onboarding people on to your team is an incredibly important process. I’ve written more on onboarding here in my article “The Four C’s of Successful Onboarding.” Today we’re talking about how we get the right people through the hiring and screening process. Hiring the right person can exponentially increase your return on investment over the average tenure of an employee.
Maximizing our Hiring Process
Interviewing and hiring is a time-consuming process, and since Pragmatic Works offers positions to fewer than 1% of the people who come into our funnel, it used to consume a lot of valuable time from my leadership team. That isn’t because the candidates were unqualified. Many of them were smart, experienced professionals, but for one reason or another, they weren’t quite what we needed. Let’s take a look at what we do now – after years of experience improving our hiring process.
Reduce time spent and increase results!
Don’t leave hiring to HR
Your team is a personal thing. These are the people you’re trusting to help you think through tough problems and create new exciting things. You’ll be in the trenches together, so go out and help HR find the right people. Reach out to your networks and your team’s networks to find ideal candidates.
Does HR have the relationships to bring you the right candidates?
Would you trust something this important to anyone else?
Get people face to face
I would never hire anyone we haven’t met face to face. Technology makes this very easy today. Even if we have to do it like this:
This clip is one of my favorite scenes in a movie ever!
How can you get people face to face easily and quickly?
What are you looking for when they are face to face?
Prioritize personal referrals
When a candidate comes in from someone you know, move them to the top of the pile. Be careful to set the expectation with the referrer that just because they referred them, they still might not be the right fit. That said, a personal referral from someone who knows you or has worked with you in the past might be gold since that person knows what you’re looking for and who will work well with you.
Has this worked for you in the past?
Who is most likely to know good candidates for you?
Create a process to pre-screen
Create a simple quiz, pre-test or something that is relevant to the job. We also use an aptitude test that tests a mix of personality, emotional intelligence and communication skills. We picked these because they are some of the most important things to being successful with our firm.
What is most important to your team?
What ways could you easily prescreen candidates?
Could they self-screen using today’s technology?
Ask them real questions
That video still cracks me up! I promise we won’t ask you what you’ll do if you’re the size of a nickel. I respect their process, and I admit we have one or two of those oddball questions that we may ask when hiring for senior roles to see how they think about things, but they are limited and asked at the very end. Focus on questions that will help you see how your candidate will approach problem-solving or creating.
What do you want your team to do well?
What could they add to your team that it’s missing?
See how they work
Sometimes we have the opportunity to hire someone on a contract basis before bringing them onto our team full-time. Other times we create opportunities to have them create something or do a small project so we can see:
1. Attention to detail
2. Communication skills
4. Overall quality of work
5. Interaction with the group doing the project
We have found these to be good indicators of how a candidate will do on our team.
What are you looking for when you review someone’s work?
How did they do it differently than you would have imagined?
Never interview alone
While final decisions are usually mine, I don’t make them without consensus from my leadership team. Create specific audiences for those conversations, compare notes and carefully consider the thoughts and suggestions from your team members.
Who would be a good group to participate in this?
How can you help them each think about this person in their way?
Create a standard-ish for evaluating candidates
Use a standard to evaluate candidates but leave room for their personality or experience to shine through. I look for people who have kept customers happy before in a service industry, including bartenders, servers, retail managers, etc. Tough jobs that, when done successfully, give lifetime customer service skills.
What are you looking for in your candidates?
What makes this candidate stand out from all the other qualified great people in your process?
Focus on creating relationships
It might not work out. It might not be the right fit. We try to leave each candidate that makes it through our interview process with a path to professional development. That means in many cases, we have suggested tools, courses and, in some cases, given them access to some of our internal resources to help them improve themselves. Many of those people have applied again months later and we hired them! Yay!
How are you creating relationships with candidates over time?
What are you doing to be compassionate and helpful to all your candidates?
Once you’ve hired the right people, then you need to onboard them. For more on that check out my article “The Four C’s of Successful Onboarding.” Don’t forget to join the conversation by following me on Twitter @wadamj.
I want to learn from you! What is the one best thing you’ve seen or done to find the right people for your organization?
Let me know in the comments below. I’ll post a follow up with credit to the best ones submitted!