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Hiring as an Art

Shot by Mikael in Brooklyn, NY

Hiring is an art with various mediums and methods to create a masterpiece. In this post, I detail my methods consisting on learnings, articles read and advice received.

Begin with introducing some objectivity (more on that here) in a process that is dominated with subjectivity. Create a scorecard based on the job specification and core competencies you require for the role.

During the interview, use the scorecard and determine if the candidate has:

  • Motivation – for the role, and importantly for life in general. You want someone to join your team who will be motivated more often than not about life and the business. Avoid lemons!

  • Fit – for your company’s culture. If most people at your office have an out of office hobby does the candidate have one? Will they be part of the weekly drinks or Q&A events, if this is what’s expected of employees? Importantly you want to determine fit to the culture, which does not relate to race or personality type.

  • Capability – are they capable to perform the role or capable of learning to perform the role? Do they have the intellectual capacity? Use the job specification you have as a guide. Practical examples help to understand and provide context. Look for these from the candidate. Once a candidate has 5+ years of work experience, no need to place much weight on university scores.

Tests – for them and yourself. Test the candidate with a department specific test set by the head of department based on the type of work they’ll do. This is not to foreign, consulting companies do this with their case interviews. For more senior hires or if you have the budget, a battery type physiological test can give you an indication of the candidate’s behavioral tendencies. It allows you to flag areas and be aware of potential blind spots. The next test is for you. If you like the candidate test yourself to find a reason to say no. If you can accept this ‘no’ reason, then the candidate remains in the running.

Money - take the annual guaranteed salary of the role. Ask yourself if you’re willing to invest that money, some R400k / R750k / R2m in the person now or would you rather spend it on another project or another person?

All these areas provide you with a reason to say no. If you still want to hire this candidate, even after all the potential ‘no’s’ then the candidate remains in the running.

Process (suggested minutes to spend in brackets)

  1. Pre-interview – Online presence, review CV and cover letter, build some questions. (15)

  2. Interview 1 – Motivation, Fit, Capability with scorecard. (60)

  3. Interview 2

  4. Test. (30-60)

  5. Culture interview – further determines fit. Basically answering would you like this person to sit across from you/someone at the office for the next year? Typically conducted by people not directly in the department the hire will work in. (45)

  6. Interview 3 – Senior Manager or Executive with test feedback/queries. Should be 1 or max 2 candidates interviewed at this level (unless they keep being rejected). The point is not to let the executive decide. It’s your, as the hiring manager’s, decision. You need only give the executive one person who is a yes for you. (60)

  7. Internal review meeting of all those who met the candidate, reviewing notes on each interviewer’s scorecard, flagging issues and asking if hiring the candidate raises the bar in the department or organization? (20)

  8. Reference checks. (10)

  9. Offer.

In Summary: When hiring, at every stage of the process, find a reason to say no. If you can justify this 'no' (concern) with good reason go with the hire.

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