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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.