The Secrets To Hiring People Who Will Stick Around

To hire candidates who will be in for the long haul, you need to change your strategy. Here's how to really hire for growth—be proactive, unconventional and open-minded.

When looking to grow business, many entrepreneurs begin hiring for quantity, not quality. But doing so can result in high turnover and hours and money wasted. Growth doesn’t happen in six months, a year or even two years; substantial growth happens five years from today, and is facilitated by quality employees.

Companies should be concerned with hiring intelligent people, people who can empathize with others and can cultivate and maintain meaningful client relationships. That means hiring for personality and culture fit rather than a skill set.

Here are some others tips to consider when hiring for growth:

1. Always be interviewing.

The right time to be interviewing is before there is a need. The hiring process can take anywhere from a month to three months or more, and proactive interviewing ensures there is a pipeline of quality candidates when a need arises. Proactive interviewing also allows insight into the marketplace and what’s going on.

2. Hire slow, fire fast.

I learned early on to hire slow, and fire fast. Don’t be afraid to part ways with the bad hires... they quickly impact productivity, moral and culture. To ensure the candidate is the right fit for the company, and the company is the right fit for them, each candidate should meet with four or five different staff members individually. If a few employees have concerns, it’s likely they aren’t the right fit for the organization.

3. The airplane test.

A new hire has to pass the airplane test, meaning you need to be able to sit next to that person for four hours and actually enjoy your time with them. If you can confidently say they would pass this test, they may be the right fit. I look for two other things during the interview process. First, that they are a genuinely nice person, and second, that they have a strong work ethic...everything else can be taught.

4. Consider soft skills.

Soft skills matter. Don’t become pigeonholed into thinking the person with the exact necessary experience is the right person for the role. Someone may have been in a totally different career, like engineering or computer science, but the analytical skills they have might be beneficial to the job. Ask yourself if that candidate with an art history major could be a good fit for the sales position. If you don’t, you could miss out quality candidates.

5. Ask "unconventional" interview questions.

Ask a question that may not pertain to a typical job interview and see how the candidate responds. When you get a candidate that’s defensive and questions why you’re asking the question, it’s a red flag. Candidates that are willing to answer demonstrate flexibility, openness and the ability to think on their feet — all necessary skills in today’s workplace. These questions are meant to catch the candidate off guard and gauge how they handle uncomfortable situations. This is a preview of how they might act when there’s an unexpected situation with a client or coworkers.

6. Capitalize on interruptions.

When I’m interviewing a candidate, I’ll have someone interrupt the interview to ask me a question. I’ll then introduce the candidate to that person and take note of that interaction. Does the candidate stand up, shake their hand and introduce themselves, or are they frustrated and unprofessional? This interruption shows me how they’re going to interact with and how they view the first impression and first interaction with other people.

7. Consider long-term growth opportunities.

Any employee can be a star performer. Look for traits in the candidate that can produce a top performer in six months, a year or two years. It’s not all about skills and education. It’s about what drives them, their ability to self-evaluate, their sense of right and wrong, and ultimately their willingness to challenge the status quo. Their skills may not be anywhere near developed, but can they develop? Consider what’s on their resume as indicators of what they can help the company accomplish in the future.

Tom Gimbel is the founder/president/CEO of LaSalle Network, a nationally recognized staffing firm based in Chicago.

[Image: Flickr user Lina-Sydney]

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  • Brian Rebold

    all this talk about "fit, personality, culture, and networking your way into a company" is somewhat disturbing to hear for a few reasons. my father is a computer engineering technical guru and he holds the opposite opinion. this might only be applicable to engineering, but if you can't do STEM, you can't be an engineer. it doesn't matter how much of a nice person you are. the state employment agencies and local Christian volunteer-run networking groups preach, "knowing the right people." however this may be true and a helpful tool, i don't think it should be taught this way. the very essence of corruption is inept/selfish, but well-connected individuals controlling vast amounts of resources. generally i think HR professionals write this jargon to fill space on your website. however their focus on "fit" has probably filtered out a number of qualified or brilliant STEM applicants for being rough around the edges.

  • Chris Cheek Higgins

    It's not Just the person you hire, it's the work environment that impacts the decision to stay or leave. An environment that creates "cliques" and school yard behavior is not inviting for new employees. A well designed orientation program that guides new hires during the first 2 - 3 months, including an assigned mentor, will help establish a strong bond with the company.

  • While well-meaning, I fear that many of the listed points would lead to corporate mediocrity. I recently read Peter Drucker's management classic, "The Effective Executive," in which strength is the focus, not personality. This is even more appropriate in the modern world where face-to-face interaction is less of a concern. Do we really want an employee who gets along with everyone and sucks up to management? Or would we prefer a rather unpleasant individual who has powerful results? It is difficult to have both. I would prefer the latter. I don't need an all-rounder; the strength of the individual should match the niche of the position. A results-focused company would have excellent employee retention.

  • Chinwe Mordi

    Unpleasant individuals get the work done individually but never in a team. Most companies work in and with teams. That's the disadvantage of that choice

  • These are very effective methods at finding the right people, culturally, since even companies in the same industry can have rather different cultures.

    To further clarify on "unconventional", it doesn't mean "illegal"; at least, that's not how I would interpret "unconventional". For example, asking a female candidate in her mid-20's the likelihood she'll have children within the next 2 years - to see how she'll react and/or respond - is not going to help in your recruiting endeavors, but it could help pad your law firm invoices.

    One question I've used in the past - and I can't recall the original source - was to ask if I had a magical credit card that could buy the candidate any skill he/she did not already possess, what would they buy for him/her? It's an unconventional question - one that's not on those rote laundry lists of "standard" questions - but it has helped me to learn more about every candidate I've asked.

  • This is a great list, and they are all are great points. I think encouraging your team and inspiring them is also important too. In return they'll respect you and do fantastic work. We have a fantastic team, and we all communicate regularly as a remote team - and it really makes a difference. We encourage each other to succeed and help each other when needed; team work really does make the dream work!

  • Johann Piedras

    I have to follow up with what you said and say... Together Each Accomplishes More!