If there is but one consistent business discipline that defines success, it would most certainly be the ability to hire great talent. The right person can help you launch your company to new heights, while the wrong person can almost single-handedly scuttle your hard work and effort.
Is your hiring practice strategic, thorough and consistent? Consider these 10 steps to ensure you are bringing on only the best and the brightest.
1. Remember that you are hiring for a team. Bringing just one new person onto a team can dramatically change the culture of the entire organization, and the entire organization is counting on you to do it right. Remember: Your standards are not what you desire. Your standards are what you accept. Are you truly willing to accept this person into your culture?
2. Start recruiting before you need to hire. The time to look for new talent is long before you have a gaping hole in your organization. Look for new recruits as a part of your regular routine, not as the rare exception to the norm. This simple habit helps you avoid the dreadfully painful experience of hiring substandard talent because you ran out of time to properly recruit a rock star.
3. Cultivate referrals. Your team knows how to spot potential rock stars, so ask them for referrals -- regularly. But if a referral candidate isn’t an upgrade to your current team, pass! Even if it means ruffling the feathers of the referring team member.
4. Look for a history of success. Check potential employees’ online presence for signs of success. Don’t think of social media as a place to look for "gotchas," but rather an opportunity to seek positive stories from a person’s past. Search for signs of achievement, drive and job-related wins.
5. Pre-screen candidates over the phone. How many times do you ruefully recognize within the first two minutes of an interview that you will never, ever hire this person? Avoid these painful interviews by spending five minutes on the phone before setting up a face-to-face meeting. If a simple phone conversation is a struggle, well...
6. Plan for interviews in advance. Failure to spend adequate time reviewing a candidate’s resumé makes you look both unorganized and disrespectful. Don’t miss out on hiring rock stars because they turn you down! Prepare for the interview the same way that you expect your candidates to prepare.
7. Abandon the cliché questions. Candidates know the standard questions and are fully prepared to give you their standard answers. Don’t waste valuable interview time asking the same stinking questions asked during every other stinking interview. Focus on behavior-based questions that relate to the actual job -- "Tell me about a time when you had to ..." -- and you will gain fantastic insight.
8. Gain team consensus. The responses of your team members -- positive, negative or neutral -- can tell you a great deal about a candidate's potential fit. If you sense tension even before you hire someone, that might be all the information you need.
9. Check references. This sounds obvious, but it is shocking how many people skip this step. The key is listening for the things you don't hear! If past employers and colleagues don't speak knowingly and glowingly about a candidate’s work, then keep looking.
10. Follow up with every candidate. Everyone you interview deserves a follow-up phone call or letter. You can safely assume that most candidates experience a fair amount of anxiety in the days after the interview. Show some respect, and protect your brand in the marketplace, by giving them a clear and timely answer.