As you’re building your BIG IDEA into a business, you’ll probably need to hire employees. Most likely, you’ll even experience some form of employee turnover or volatility throughout the course of your business. So how do you hire “good” employees? How do you know who’s capable, loyal, trustworthy, and dependable? Do employees like that exist? Can you weed out the unmotivated, unqualified, and unreliable? Well, over the course! In my years as a business owner, I’ve developed my own hiring practice, based on expert advice and what has worked for me. Therefore, I’d like to share the requirements for how to hire the right employees for your startup.
“I like to use the words ‘team members’ instead of employees or staff members. Team implies that people are pulling in the same direction” – Justin Goodbread, CFP®, CEPA®, CVGA®Click to tweet
If you look at the title of this article, you’ll notice that I used the word “employees.” Yet, I really don’t like that word. I also don’t like to use the word “staff” in a professional setting. To me, staff is an infection. It carries a negative connotation in my mind. So does employee. Employee implies inferiority. Sure, if you’re an employer or a business owner, you’re the boss. I realize that.
However, think about a football team. You have a quarterback, a wide receiver, a running back, a tight end, a defensive end, etc. Additionally, you have a head coach, but you also have a quarterback coach, an offensive coach, a defensive coach, and more. Without any one of those people, you wouldn’t have a team. Therefore, I like to use the words “team members” instead of employees or staff members. Team implies that people are pulling in the same direction. It signals that they’re operating with a single goal.
Of course, your team members can make or break your company. They can help you become an industry leader, or they can lead you down a path of conflict and adversity. A client of mine recently told me, “If I didn’t have employees or customers, my life would be a lot easier.” Sure, it would! Kidding aside, hiring employees is a hot topic. Just Google it, and you’ll see that there are many books and articles written on the topic. With all this information about how to hire team members, though, why do business owners often settle for less than their best?
Well, I reached out to a group of business owners and HR directors that I’m a part of and asked them to give me their top tips for hiring employees. Here are some of the tips they gave me.
I think my fellow business owners gave some great advice. However, I look for slightly different things when I go through the interview process with candidates. I’m not saying my process is the “right” one. No, it’s not. You may have to do something different. Yet, for my style of business, I’ve found a particular process that typically yields me the best results.
If I realize I need to hire somebody in my company, then the first thing I do is put a “Now Hiring” ad out on social media. I prefer not to use newspaper ads or ads on job listing websites, and I don’t include job descriptions in my posts. However, I will include the job title. You see, I have tons of people who follow me and my company on social media. They know my character, and they know my company’s culture. Therefore, whenever people see my ad on Facebook or Twitter, they’re probably going to recommend people they feel like fit with my character and my company’s culture. That’s important and valuable to me.
Whenever people indicate that they’re interested in working for my company, I’ll ask them to contact me via email. Once they contact me, I’ll send them a generic email that says something like, “I understand you’re interested in a position within my company. I’d love to get a copy of your resume so I can see if you’re a good fit for the position.” Now, it’s been my experience that whenever I send out this email, 25% of the recipients will not even provide a resume. Thus, I’ve immediately weeded out the ones who are just kicking tires, if you will.
Next, before I ever look at the resumes they email back, I’ll send potential candidates a task to complete. Usually, I’ll ask them to take a free, online personality profile test. I’ll ask them to take a screenshot of their results, attach that to an email, and tell me why they do or don’t agree with the personality assessment in the body of the email.
Honestly, I don’t give a flying flip where they went to school or what degrees they have. I assume the applicants are qualified if they’re applying for a certain job. Instead, I’d rather know that they’re willing and able to follow simple instructions. If they’re not willing to follow simple directions, folks, I don’t want them on my team. In my financial world, my team members have to abide by many simple and complex laws. If candidates aren’t willing to follow mundane tasks, how can I trust them with very detailed or extreme tasks?
Obviously, I’m hiring for a job within my company, so I’ll have to know what type of personality profile works best in that specific job. That goes without saying. However, I want to see if this person’s personality will also fit within my company. At this point in time, I can’t hire another person with my personality. My company isn’t big enough for my personality and another’s like mine. We would butt heads. Now as my company grows, and we need some different types of personalities and positions, that could change. But right now, I want to look at the results of the candidates’ personality tests to see if their personalities fit within my company as it exists today.
Then, if candidates’ personalities fit within my company and my existing team, I’ll review their resumes. Up to this point, I haven’t even looked at their qualifications. I care more about who they are, not what they’ve done. I want to see if they can get through my instructions first, and if they can, I’ll flip over their resumes to see what I can see.
I’m not looking for advanced degrees. Sometimes, people expect their degrees to get them to the interview table. But that doesn’t work for me. I’m looking at their job histories. Have they bounced around from job to job? What types of jobs have they done? If they haven’t had this job title, have they done similar things?
Now here’s where it gets fun. If candidates have followed instructions, and I’m satisfied with their job histories, I’ll ask them to meet with me. But I’m going to ask them to meet me when it’s inconvenient for them. If I see that they work a 9 to 5 job, then I’ll have them meet me either early in the day at 7:00 am or at the end of the day when they’re brain dead at 7:00 pm. I’m not trying to be mean. No, I want to see them when they’re tired or anxious. I want to see how they function under fatigue and stress because everyone has to work under those conditions at times.
At the appointed dates and times, I’ll meet with candidates at my office, and I’ll have another team member present with me to help guide the process and assess the candidates. Although I’ll learn many things from these interviews, I’m mainly trying to decide if I like and respect any of the candidates enough to hire one of them. In fact, I play a little game of cat and mouse with candidates in person.
First, I’ll place their resume in the center of the table, but I won’t address it. Instead, I’ll ask about candidates’ current and/or former jobs. I’ll ask them how many hours they put on the clock, and I’ll ask about their former employers. Usually, I’ll even ask them about their hobbies and special interests. As they respond, I’m looking to see if they’re optimistic or pessimistic about life and careers in general. Are they positive or negative? Do they slander former employers or fellow team members? How long does it take them to ask how much money I’ll pay them? How long does it take for them to mention their resumes? Are they relying on that pre-built polished info or can they speak to what they claim to know?
During the interview, I want to make candidates squirm just a little bit. I want to turn their focus from their resumes and what they’ve accomplished. As I mentioned before, that stuff isn’t important to me. WHO they are as people and how hard they work mean more to me than lines on their resumes.
If they “pass” that initial meeting with me, I usually give candidates additional work to do related to the job for which they’re interviewing. Essentially, I want to know that they can do the job well and get it done in a timely manner. Can they work independently yet still communicate effectively when necessary? Are they able to do the job they say they can do?
For example, whenever I was hiring a content manager for Financially Simple, I asked 4 of the candidates to do some extracurricular work after I interviewed them. I sent each of them one of my podcast recordings and asked them to turn it into a blog post. Then, I asked them to add graphics, meta-descriptions, and keywords. I wanted to see their SEO and SEM work; I wanted to see what they were capable of doing for my content. Well, one candidate never did any of the “extra-curricular” work. Of the 3 candidates who did the work, John was the only one who called me and asked me if I had any questions about his content. He was the only one who followed-up with me. Therefore, he got the job, and if you’re reading this article now, you can thank John for his content and SEO work.
At this point, if any candidates are qualified and have met my high expectations, then I’ll meet with them off-site for a final interview. They’ve gone through this process. They’ve done work for me, met me in the office, and answered multiple questions. Now, I want their family to meet my family and/or my business associates. I’ll meet the candidates, their families, my family, and some of my existing team members sit down to eat at a restaurant. We’ll chat, and I’ll watch their interactions with others. Do they seem to “play nicely” with others? Do they get flustered or aggravated easily? Are they able to communicate well? Can I figure out who these people really are?
The day after that final interview, I’ll touch base with my family members and team members. If ALL members at the final interviews agree that one of the candidates would be a good hire for our company, then I’ll contact that applicant and make him or her an offer. I’ll bring him/her in to sign manuals, agreements, and authorizations for background checks. We’ll get the ball rolling.
Once the candidate joins my team, I’m not done with the hiring process. No, I’m not. When I bring that employee on, I’m going to teach him/her the way I think and the way I work. I want to teach him/her how to play as a team member in my company. AND, I want to show him/her what the future and his/her future looks like within my organization. I want to cast my vision and make sure he/she catches it, and I’ll give him/her 90 days to do it.
Whew. At this point, you may be thinking, “Dude, that is one crazy interview process. That’s ridiculous!” Look friends; my process may not fit your business. I get that, but just because something’s difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Remember, you reap rewards where you sew time and effort. Me? I’m trying to build a business where the team members are more qualified and more capable than I am. If I can hire the right people at the beginning, then they might carry my business further than I could have ever imagined it would go.
You see, if the organization isn’t healthy, then’s it’s not the fault of the team members. It’s my fault. If I didn’t hire right or cast my vision well, then I bear the responsibility for failure. I’m the leader, the person given the charge. If I can’t get my team members to buy into my vision, then I’m not going to reap the rewards of a strong team.
So, friends, I’m going to challenge you. Are you just trying to hire somebody who can fog a mirror, or are you legitimately putting together a hiring process that will weed out the tire kickers or the people who just want a quick buck? I don’t want that. I want people with me who are dedicated to my bigger picture and can help me get there. Hopefully, they’ll challenge me and make me better. Then, if I’ve hired well, my team members can work autonomously without me, which will allow them and my company to reap great rewards in the future.
Now, is my hiring process the only one? It works for me.
Be sure to stick around for ur next article where we will be discussing negotiating to get the best prices from vendors and suppliers.