What makes a business successful is not just a world-changing concept and a unique strategy that is responsive to changes. An important formula in making a successful business is making the right decisions, and taking the time and effort in hiring the right person on every position.
Hiring the right person is important. Perhaps equally important with your business strategy. After all, you are looking for an applicant whom you can trust even in times when you are not there to supervise. When you hire a person to work in your company, it is like entrusting a part of your business to someone you do not fully know, and yet trusting that he or she will do the right thing.
The process of selecting the right person for the job is important on both huge businesses and startups – more so for startups. Because for startups, having someone believe your vision, and getting them onboard with you is challenging. At the same time, having someone who has the right skillset can dictate the difficulty of the road ahead for you as an aspiring businessman.
Nonetheless, regardless of the size of the business, the importance of hiring the right employee is of utmost importance wherever stage of the business you are in.
If you are a hiring manager or a business owner, here are 17 things you should remember in choosing the best candidate from the sea of applicants.
1. Comprehensive Job Description
Before accepting applicants, make sure you know what you are looking for in a candidate. Enumerate the experience, skills, characteristics, and qualities of the potential hire.
Make your hiring criteria clear on the job description that you will later post on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other professional sites. This method will, firstly, let the applicants know the gravity of the responsibility and the skill required on a certain position, and it will filter out those who do not have the proper experience and competency.
In such a way, this will save you time from going through multiple applications.
(Read: How to Write a Job Description)
2. Prepare Interview Questions
When looking to hire qualified job candidates, make sure to ask the right questions. Going through a job interview requires preparation not just by the applicant, but also by the interviewer.
As a hiring manager or a business owner, asking the right questions will help you go beyond what’s written on the resume and what you can actually see in person during the interview.
Although some candidates have great first impressions to you, it does not equate to right attitude and competency. In the same way, if applicants are soft-spoken or timid, it does not mean that they are incompetent.
Of course, take this with a grain of salt, too. You don’t want a timid sales manager, nor a relations manager that is loud.
You can ask about their failures and successes on their previous jobs, their approach in solving certain problems, and more.
3. Clarify Expectations
Applicants who aspire to be a part of your company have their personal hopes, too. You’re not just the one who are trying to assess things, these applicants are also trying to assess the company.
Therefore, do not lie about the things that they can and cannot expect from you and from the company. Do not overpromise for the sake of making them interested.
Be clear with the problems that they might encounter along the way. And make it clear to them that you are a startup company if you are one. In this way, they can assess their abilities and calibrate their thinking on the questions that you might ask during the interview.
By clarifying expectations, applicants can be honest with what they really want for their career and identify if they can satisfy their aspirations from your company.
You don’t want to be hiring someone who quits few days after because the company is not what he expected.
4. Ask About Their Career Goals
Most candidates accept a job because of the growth potential it has for them. That is why as an employer, you should know how the position will evolve in the future.
It is important to understand an applicant’s career goals because this will let you know how the position can help them achieve their aspirations. If an employee is satisfied with his job, and it makes him feel like he is learning and growing in your company, he is more likely to stay.
When you ask a candidate about his goals, you can immediately know if his expectations are aligned with what you can offer.
5. Background Check
Although calling past employers would only give one side of the story, it is still important to check with them how an applicant performed and behaved during his employment. This will give you an outlook on how it is like working with him.
Calling the references listed on your applicants resumé will also help you validate the competencies and achievements he claims he has.
Hiring the right person is a thorough process. And it means being intricate with every detail of his past working experience to get an insight about him. The purpose of calling the listed references in a candidate’s resumé is not to find his flaws, rather, to get a holistic view of his works as an employee.
6. Inquire About Past Work Experience Without Prejudice
Ask a few questions about an applicant’s past employment and understand the reasons that made him leave the company. This will give you an understanding on his preferred working environment or his expectations from your company.
Inquiring about the past employment of candidate may seem like a small gesture, but this will tell a lot about the person. Do not forget this step when trying to find qualified job candidates to your open position.
7. Know Their Weaknesses and How They Address Them
You want someone in your team to be honest, and with a sense of accountability. Although he will be cooperating with the rest of your team, he should have the sense of responsibility to improve his skills on his own. Sense of responsibility and accountability become heavier when the position you are trying to fill is one that is of managerial or supervisory.
The only way to know where to improve oneself is to know where he is lacking. Gathering feedback from past employment and self-assessment are the things that one can do to know his weak points.
You should not be looking for someone who is a “jack-of-all-trades but a master of none”. In the same way, avoid hiring someone who is willfully incompetent.
When you are looking to hire the right person, it is important to ask this question to identify if a candidate is aware of his weaknesses, and that he is trying to improve them to add better value to the company. Through this, you will identify if a candidate is trying to oversell himself to you so he can get the position.
An honest applicant, if asked, will admit to his weaknesses because he knows that if he lied, it will show later during his employment.
Nevertheless, weaknesses do not equate to incompetence. This just shows that there is still a possible room for improvement on the future. Remember, employment is a two-way street. the company and the employee should add value to one another.
8. Focus on the Candidate’s Potential
If the candidate admits shortcomings from the past job, this could mean two things: incompetence or self-awareness. You are not looking for an incompetent employee. But you could be looking for one who admits errors and accepts accountability.
Also, shortcomings from past work could be the result of a leadership or management style that does not work well for him. It could also be from a toxic working environment that did not enable the employee to maintain balance in his life. There are numerous factors explaining the failure of people to meet what is expected of them.
That is why it is important to not overly focus on the lapses of an employee.
9. Assess Problem-Solving Approach
During the short period of interview, challenge an applicant on his problem-solving abilities. Create scenarios where he will be involved and make him come up to a solution.
The applicant might not come up to the solution that you were looking for, but you may hear a brand-new approach that could help you widen your understanding of a problem.
10. Encourage Questions
The best way to know if someone is engaged, committed, and interested is if he or she asks questions that are aligned with the subject. Thus, it is important to encourage an applicant to ask questions to see if he or she has fully read the job description, knows what the position is, made his research before coming, and is very interested about moving forward.
Therefore, make the interview process a dialogue, more than a question-and-answer question.
11. Personality and Competency Tests After Initial Screening
While a face-to-face interview can tell a lot about a person, there are other tests that can help you understand a person on other aspects of his personality.
Make sure to include personality and competency tests in your process of hiring the right applicant to be a part of your company. A personality test will help you understand the behaviors and attitudes of a person on different scenarios. This will help you validate (to some extent) the social skills he claims to have.
A competency test will help you measure the skills of a candidate and identify if these skills meet your requirements. This test can be more specific to the position a person is applying for. Making a candidate take a competency examination will help you validate the skills and abilities he or she claims to have.
This method is crucial in helping you hire the right person for the job, and it will lessen the chances of hiring someone who is not competent enough to hold a position.
The last thing that you want to happen is hiring someone and having to fire him because he lied in his resumé.
12. Hands-On Work
In choosing the best candidate for the job, you must examine his actual work. If you are looking for an experienced accounting staff, have him create a financial statement based on your company’s actual figures. If you are looking for a marketing specialist, introduce him to your team and hear his insights on your existing marketing campaigns. And have someone create an essay or proofread a document if you are looking for an editor.
By doing this, you can examine how a candidate actually works even before hiring him.
13. Assess Attitude and Work-Ethic
In hiring the right person, competency is not the only criteria. As a hiring manager or a business owner, you should also look into an applicant’s attitude towards other people. At times, people who are very knowledgeable on their field are no longer teachable because of their ego.
Undoubtedly, you need a competent employee in your team. But look for someone who is still willing to learn and is a team player. A competent employee who does not get along with your team could bring more harm than good. That is why trying to assess the attitude of an applicant is important in choosing the best candidate. You don’t want to introduce a toxic employee within your team because he might wreak havoc to your synergy.
For this reason, hire the right applicant who strikes the balance between attitude and competence. If someone could get along with the rest of your team, you can have a high-performing environment that is less likely to collapse.
14. Does the Applicant Fit in Your Culture?
In hiring the right person, he must have the right attitude to go along with the rest of your team, and he must be able to adapt the culture of your company. If possible, during the interview process, highlight to the applicant the values and cultures that you want to uphold in your company, and look for his willingness to adapt to them.
This goes along with making your expectations explicit from the first day.
But to know if an applicant is the perfect fit, as an employer, you should understand your company’s values and cultures so that you can examine a candidate based on your clear understanding.
15. Gut Feel
The old “gut feel” has withstood the test of time over and over again. If something just doesn’t feel right and you don’t know why, trust your gut. In the same way, if something is off about a candidate, be more intricate or pay more attention during the interview process.
As with any skill, intuition can also be trained. And although gut feel can be reliable, it is not foolproof. So, tread lightly on this one.
Hiring the right person from a sea of possible candidates could be a long, frustrating process – especially if the position badly needs to be filled. As disappointing as it is, going through potential candidates individually should be done with patience.
17. Reassess Hiring Process
If after some time and you have not selected the right person for the job yet, you might want to take a second look at your hiring process, re-examine your criteria, and revisit the job description. There could be something wrong with your hiring process resulting to your efforts not yielding any desirable outcome.
Sifting through numerous candidates over a long period of time to hire the right person is a skill in itself. The hiring process is a combination of scientific methods, actual interaction, and the good old gut feel.
Remember, the goal is to hire the right person – one that fits in your company’s culture, has the right attitude and skills, one that mixes with your team, and one that can add value.
As mentioned, hiring a person is entrusting a portion of your company to him. Not just to hire someone to fill in a position. So, whenever you’re growing impatient on not finding the qualified job candidate, be patient. And bear in mind that you should hire someone to whom you can entrust a portion of your company with.