Some Random Hard-Won Hiring Business Tips

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I’ve been involved in some amazing, world beater hires. These are people who change your life and bring the organization to a whole new level of performance and happiness. I’ve also made and/or observed some stunning mis-hires. I don’t know everything! But here are some lessons I’ve learned about hiring (in no particular order):

  1. Dropping an outside hire into a senior role works out about 50% of the time. Hire from within whenever possible. Find someone who can do the job to a 6/10 level and develop them from there
  2. Most leaders spend 1% of their time vetting candidates and 80% of their time managing mis-hires. Reverse that ratio. Take your time and hire slowly
  3. Develop a score card of what you want your new hire to accomplish in their first year. I’m talking about measurable, specific expectations. No more than 5
  4. Build a virtual bench: figure out who you’d like to have on your team and build a relationship with them over time. Pull them when the time is right
  5. Hire the person who has dirt under their fingernails and personally accomplished something. Not the person who was a “supervisor”
  6. Never believe a resume. Resumes are sales brochures and probably contain gaps or spin if not outright lies
  7. The best indicator of future performance is past performance. What have they accomplished in the past? You’ll likely get more of the same
  8. Have the discipline to wait for the right person. Don’t settle for an okay person. Often winners and whiners are paid the same. It’s your job to do the sorting and find the good ones
  9. Everywhere you go, keep your eyes open for outstanding people. Get to know them at trade shows, vendor events, social settings, and places you patronize. Give them your card and poach them when you can
  10. Indeed and other hiring platforms are fishing pools filled with a lot of B and C players. The best people are already bringing their A-game to work somewhere else. You have to find them
  11. Watch out for fired, reorganized, laid off, or restructured. When you’re restructuring, who do you lose and who do you keep? Do you lay off your best or your weakest?
  12. Leaving is rarely mutual. Find out who’s initiative it was and dig deeper
  13. When interviewing, ask, don’t talk and share your personal experiences. The more you talk, the less you learn
  14. Take note of how a person talks about their past boss because one day, you’re going to be their past boss
  15. Do tandem interviews; one person asks, the other takes notes and observes
  16. Dig for values fit by asking about a person’s influences. Who do they listen to on YouTube, who do they read, which podcasts do they subscribe to? Make sure your values align
  17. Whenever a candidate is vague or doesn’t want to talk about something, talk about that thing. Dig deeper
  18. Do a social media check. What kind of stuff are they posting online? Are you okay with that?
  19. Always do a DISC assessment before the interview to determine basic fit
  20. The best people are pulled from job to job, not pushed off the bus. Look for “pulled” when interviewing
  21. Do your best to avoid the “blind date” interview. Try a working interview, do a project together, hire someone who you (or someone you trust) already know. “Blind dates” are the worst way to get to know a candidate
  22. Ask your current A-players who they know that could join the team. They have an opportunity to control their work environment by stacking the team with great people
  23. Push for areas of weakness. You’ll almost always get, “I work too hard, care too much, take work home with me…” Say, “I’m not asking to see if you have weaknesses – I already know you do – I’m asking to find out if you have self awareness.” That usually gets them talking
  24. Pay attention to references from direct supervisors. Parents, best friends, and lateral co-workers don’t count
  25. Look for resilience. Did they encounter a hard thing and conquer it, or did they take their ball and go home when the going got tough?
  26. Prioritize positive energy. Nothing important is accomplished without enthusiasm

Hiring is the most important decision you make, and the hardest one to fix when you get it wrong. Take your time and get A-players in every key seat!

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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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