We put a lot of time and effort into the process for good reason—hiring the wrong person for an important role can be a major inconvenience (not to mention a potentially huge waste of time, money, and other resources). This is never truer than for a new business, where initial hires are often integral in setting the tone for the company culture going forward. If you’ve determined that it’s time to hire an employee, following these steps throughout your interview process will help you ensure that you pick the right person for your team, your vision, and your new company as a whole.
1. Understand how the candidate’s aspiration fits with the job
As you create the job description for the role you’re hoping to fill, pay attention to how you see the position growing within the next few years. How does your ideal candidate fit into your growth plan for your business?
During the hiring process, we always want to understand the candidate’s aspirations. How do they want to grow their career in the next three years? Why do they think this job can help them fulfil their aspirations?
Getting a sense of the career goals of each potential candidate is a key part of the interview process. It really helps us see what a candidate thinks of the available job and if they could be a good fit
It’s important to get a clear sense of both how you foresee the ideal candidate growing in the role that you’re hiring for, as well as an understanding of the career goals of your potential candidates. Getting a sense of both aspects will help you determine whether or not there is alignment between your job candidate and the company’s goals.
2. Don’t hyperfocus on their past
Wait—doesn’t this contradict the previous advice?
Not necessarily; while it’s important to thoroughly screen potential candidates, there’s a difference between making sure you get a solid sense of the work style and capabilities of your candidate and diving too deeply into the minutiae.
How many job interviews have you held where you said, ‘Walk me through your resume?’. You should have read their resume already and should not need them to hold your hand through their past experience.
Eliminating this rehashing of information, and instead shifting the interview to focus on how they would solve problems that would occur as a part of the role you’re hiring for, and sussing out their potential.
You should have open-ended questions that are relevant to the position to see how they answer and work through the process. Hire people for their future potential, too—not just their past achievements.
3. Consider evaluation strategies beyond the face-to-face interview
The traditional face-to-face interview is largely obsolete, while it’s still a part of my process, someone who interviews well is just that: a good interviewer. The in-person interview may not always be the best way to evaluate someone’s true personality and skills—especially, she notes, for people who get nervous easily.
Does this mean you should abandon interviews altogether? Probably not—but it might mean adding some tools to your interview arsenal beyond simply evaluating resumes and a few rounds of interviews. Pair the process with data, like personality tests and skills-based questionnaires.
So, while you shouldn’t forego in-person interviews entirely, consider using additional measurement tools in conjunction with interviews to give you a more well-rounded sense of potential candidates.
4. Make sure candidates spend plenty of time with your team
Clearly, the standard interview process isn’t always the best way to uncover whether or not your potential candidate is the best fit for the role you need to fill. Realistically, you need to do a bit more to determine if a candidate will fit in with your other team members, and your workplace culture as a whole.
Introducing potential hires to different types of workplace situations and seeing how they mesh with your other employees. The hiring process is about ensuring that anyone we make an offer to spend significant time with at least six members of our team in a variety of situations—one-on-one, informal coffee or lunch, work simulations, and so on.
Not only does this give you an opportunity to see how your candidate interacts with other employees, but it also allows key stakeholders the opportunity to give feedback on the candidate. This allows for a wider variety of input and increases the chances that any potential red flags surfaces and can be addressed.
5. Prioritize culture fit—and clearly understand your company culture
What defines your company culture? What kind of workplace do you hope to build, and what traits do you value most in your employees? It’s hugely important to make sure that any potential hires fit your company—but in order to determine that, it’s important to understand your own culture and what exactly you’re looking for in your candidate.
Consider what specific traits a potential employee should have that would make them a good fit for your current culture, or the culture you’re hoping to build. During the interview process, ask questions that will highlight the aspects you are looking for in a candidate. Although a candidate might appear great on paper, it’s important to take a holistic approach to the hiring process and look for other qualifications, such as their values or interpersonal skills.
6. Ask them what they’re not good at
The right hire won’t be great at everything under the sun. Ask an applicant what they know they’re not good at, and their answer will help you understand their professional expectations for themselves and whether your assessment of them matches with their own.
This question goes beyond the basic “what are your weaknesses?” line of questioning, and encourages prospective employees to articulate areas where they lack tangible skill, it will give you insight into whether or not prospective candidates are working to improve, and it will also help you identify work ethic and personal goals. “Are they actively working on improving these areas?”.