How to Hire the Right People

How to Hire the Right People

Easy…invest more time in your hiring process.

I get it… it’s difficult to find great candidates so the thought of slowing down your hiring process may feel scary.

The reality is you’ll invest the time one way or another…either on the front end to ensure you hire the right person, or on the back end when you invest your time in disciplinary meetings, money to correct mistakes, and energy to make the tough decision to terminate.

Instead of thinking, I’ll hire the person and we’ll have 90 days to see if it works out or not. Change your mindset to, I will be intentional during the hiring process to increase my chances of only hiring employees that fit in my culture and contribute to the long-term success of the team.

Not too long after I bought my air conditioning company, I was given great advice…by one of my competitors. He said “it is better to tell a customer you cannot help them, than to hire the wrong person. A bad hire leads to unhappy customers, a damaged reputation and unmeasurable costs. They are poison to your culture.”

In the same-day-delivery world we live in, it’s tempting to hire the first person that walks in the door, but finding the right people for our team requires more than one 20-minute conversation.

Have you heard the saying “hire slow and fire fast.” It is easier said than done, but an easy way to slow down your hiring process is to be more intentional in finding the right person for your team.

It’s easy for a candidate to say the right things during one or two interviews. When you add more steps to the interview process, it becomes more difficult to “fake it.” Plus, the candidate will get more comfortable as they move through the interview process. I am thankful when candidates reveal their true identity during the interview process. It saves us a lot of time, money and heartache.

Ways to Improve Your Hiring Process

Over the years, I’ve experimented with ways to improve our hiring process. To start the experiment, I reflected on the human resource problems we experienced, identified the root cause and researched how I could shine a light on the problem before I hired the person. Here are three ways we improved our hiring process that had the most impact.

Problem:  Employees only seem to care about their paycheck.

Solution:  Intentionally search for signs the candidate is searching for a career and wants to find a great company to work for long term.

Future minded: “Let’s fast forward to a year from now. We’re celebrating your one-year work anniversary. What did we achieve together?”

Ideally, you’ll hear something like “we created a great internal training program saving the company money.”

You don’t want to hear “I’ll be making six figures” or “I’ll be taking a vacation with the bonus money we discussed.”

Great fit for your culture: Ask questions related to your core values, mission and vision. One of our core values is continuous learning so we ask a question like “Tell me something you have taught yourself in the last six months.”

Ideally, you’ll hear something like “I had to fix my lawn mower a few weeks ago so I downloaded the manual and read it. I was pretty sure I knew how to fix it but I called a friend that is a mechanic. He said I was on the right track so I made the repair. I was so happy it worked.”

You do not want to hear “I don’t have time to learn anything new” or “My employer does not pay for training.”

Care about career opportunity: Ask questions to determine if they have done their homework - “What do you like most about this company?” “Why did you apply to work for this company?”

You’re interviewing someone that cares about their career if they mention something unique about your company like “I enjoyed watching the video on your website. I cannot believe you pay your employees to play - bowling, drive go carts and golf.”

You do not want to hear a response like “I don’t know much about the company” or “I applied because I need a job.”

After each step in the interview process, reflect on the conversation. Did the candidate show interest in learning about the company - culture, non-financial benefits, and growth opportunities? Or did the conversation center around pay, insurance benefits and how many hours they will be expected to work?

Don’t get me wrong…we all need to know how much we’ll earn but the interview process should not center around pay. When you interview the right candidate, it’s easy to answer the pay related questions and shift the conversation to the future, your culture and their growth opportunities. If they do not engage in a two-way conversation after pay is discussed, then here’s your sign they are only focused on their paycheck. They are simply waiting to hear if they are hired or not.

You are interviewing a career minded person if they seem to be interviewing the company too. They’ve done their homework, they ask great questions based on previous conversations and they truly understand the role. It is like a magnet…the more they learn about the company and position, the more they are excited about the opportunity and want it.

Problem: Employees do not have the skills they claimed to have during the interview process

Solution: Conduct a paid job audition.

A paid job audition is a quick, inexpensive way to test the skills the candidate claims to have plus you will see their communication styles. You’ll be able to answer questions like:

  • Do they really have the skills they claim to have?
  • Do they follow directions well?
  • Do they ask good questions and express an interest in learning?
  • Do they want to learn or do they look at their phone all day?
  • Do they work well with others?

One of the great aspects of the job audition is the candidate thinks the job is in the bag because they made it so far in the interview process. The candidate is more likely to let their guard down and show their true colors.

Want to learn how to add a job audition to your hiring process, register for this class.

Should I pay for the job audition?

Yes. Paying for the candidate’s time sets the expectation this step is important and you value their time.

If you do not pay for their time and they did not get the job, you would likely hear feedback like “I did not know it was this serious. I thought this step was just a formality.” Or “if I had known you really wanted me to work, I would have shown you what I can do. I cannot believe you expected me to work for free.”

The key is to set the stage properly and do not give away too much information. Keep it short and sweet by saying something like “we’ll pay you for your time. This is a great opportunity to see what it’s like to work here. The job audition will last between 4 to 6 hours.”

Don’t tip them off by saying “leave your phone in the car” or “show up on time.” Pretend this is their first day. If they show up late or play on their phone all day, you are blessed to learn this before you hire them.

The paid audition should be one of the last steps in the interview process. For less than $200, you’ll easily confirm their skill level and whether they will work well with your team.

This is a great opportunity for someone on your team to join the interview process that is not an owner, supervisor or from the human resources department. The employee conducting the job audition is not emotionally attached to the situation and will offer a fresh perspective.

You may not want to admit it, but the hiring process is emotional. As the owner, you’re thinking of the ten zillion things you need to do. The supervisor may be tired of searching for an employee. Hiring fatigue blurs our judgement. The job audition saves you from yourself.

Side note: Did you know the job audition works for vendors too? Before you sign the contract with a vendor, find a small job to test the relationship. Even though, vendors are not subject to HR laws, they have a huge impact on your business. The last thing you want to do is sign a 6-month contract and discover a week later they are not the right fit. By using the paid job audition step, you’re able to confirm your communication styles match, they meet deadlines and deliver a service or product you’re willing to pay for.

Problem: Labor shortage

Solution: Hire for attitude and teach the skills.

Nearly every industry is experiencing a labor shortage. One of the ways to solve this problem is to hire people from outside of your industry. Hire for attitude and teach the skills required for the position.

Everyone is fighting over the same small pool of talented people. It’s a blood bath out there. 

Great news! You can get out of this vicious cycle. Help people find a long term career at your company by hiring for attitude and teach the skill. There are a lot of people that are searching for a career change. Why not help them transition to your industry?

Yes, it takes time to train someone, but you’ll teach them the skills that are valuable to your company. Long term, you’ll win because you did not waste money, time and energy “retraining” old habits.

Bottom Line

Each step in your hiring process must have a purpose and align with your goals and values. Start with one small change. Add more steps until you find the perfect hiring process for your company.

I promise it’s worth the extra time and money to wait for the right employee. Imagine a team that supports each other, loves to serve your customers and sincerely cares about the long-term well-being of your company. Dreams do come true…if you’re willing to be intentional.

Additional Resources

The book Who by Geoff Smart. 

Anything by Patrick Lencioni. Start with the book The Ideal Team Player

Mark Murphy’s book Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting and Selecting people with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude

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Fine print: Consult with your human resource or legal advisors before making changes to your hiring process.

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