3 – Best Practices for Hiring

Stephen’s 3 Best Practices for Hiring:hiring_practices_300x260

1) Choose the correct interview process for the desired outcome

Sales, engineering, operations or another.  Build a standard model for hiring staff (founders) to execute against and refine as you see turn over or hire quality improve or decline.  Do not leave this to “HR” to clean up later on.  Just fill seats is never a winning strategy.

2) Choose the right format to find employees that fit your culture

Establish a clear cultural executive summary for the company and the department you work for. Make clear points that will allow the subject to react,   Look for comments that will inform you on cultural fit and finish

3) Choose the correct interview format. Target the right skills for the roles you have defined

Have a defined project approach for each major role set as listed above. Use the 80/20 rule to develop the experience

  • Sales – have a sample sales experience that is aligned with or about to be your new sales approach.  e.g. A sales pipeline plan or a calling / lead generation plan outline
  • Eng. Have a practical example of work and provide a simple set of tests that would validate the experience needed.  e.g. show them hardware or software that closely resembles your business and ask them to identify parts and pieces. Google has much more developed problem solving programs for this
  • Operations: An example problem dealing with common issues that flair up in the training area.

Use these with the standard questions and interview processes. Know that the age of calling references is all but a dead art resulting in far less success then in previous decades. Focus on outcomes and drive the interview to to success.

I want to thank a fellow UC Berkeley Mentor Troy J. Isom at The Judge Group for laying out these great Scenarios.  I created my answers below.  What are yours?

The Scenarios:

Scenario#1: Candidate comes referred from a friend….but their resume does not reflect the work they say they’ve accomplished in their career

  1. Understanding that resumes are difficult to write, we sometimes see this problem. Can you please give me three points on how you reached your success around; “pick 2”
  2. Can you give me some details on your referring relationship with one “trial by fire” example of your working / personal relationship
  3. Aligned with our company (Based on how I interview above) can you apply one of these objective learnings to problems you faced at 1 or 2 previous places of employment?

Scenario#2: Candidate was one of the first 300 employees at Google, Inc, but has worked 5 different 5 jobs in the last 3 years.

  1. What was the early culture like vs when you left Google?
  2. Of the 5 companies, can you give me a common theme of what made them exciting to you?   What is motivating you.
  3. If it takes “X” years to learn about our company and “X+” years to be productive. How will you strive to meet our expectations? Assuming you want this employee over 3+ years. NOTE: In todays market the average time for employment is going down due to skill type or startup life.

Scenario#3: Candidate was a referred from the VC that gave your company some capital, but did not interview well, as well as, the rest of the team did not think he’s a fit.

  1. First, be clear with the VC and give feedback. It does not have to be detailed or violate confidence. It should be clear that you did the interview using your standard process and the candidate did not fit. (See my 3 methods above)
  2. Make sure you remain positive and clear. Do not fall into temptation and hire a bad fit. Sometimes you will find  a VC is checking your process and the referral was in fact not who they wanted you to hire. Underhanded yes, happens… you bet!
  3. Always make sure you keep your team on point building for a consistant process and reply. This will  show well and prevent further complications.   The major thrust of this questions seems to drive at how you respond while not taking on a person that might be a liability.

Scenario#4: Candidate has a strong educational background, interviews well-technically and personally; but only has 1 year of experience and it’s a senior role. What do you do with him/her?

  1. First, be fair with the expectations and communicate  challenges directly. Such as; perception is reality and the X team might take time to blend with a new candidate. Make sure that you give the candidate clear instruction on how to learn  favored methods and styles giving as many books/ links to that person as possible.
  2. Set up a X team mentor for the new candidate. Insure there is a success
  3. Insure that you 360 new employees more quickly and that the process insures a clear communication line.  OF course this is advice for a senior position.  Scale as required.

Scenario#5: Candidate interviews extremely well, entire team gives him/her the thumbs up…but when asked for references he/she cannot produce any within the last 5 years.

  1. Personal references are as good as any. Not produce them could be a show stopper. Give options and times with your rational.
  2. Perform a more extensive security and background check to insure the hire. It’s all about a fair chance and not presuming guilt – could be as simple as country or language barrier and nothing more.  I have seen where someone had worked for family and was embarrassed
  3. Offer the job and put more restrictions on the standard offer. Given you have cause you can justify it.  Simply double the time on probation or change vesting options. It’s always a balance, clear it with legal and your HR process. Employment law is one you don’t want to cross, even on new hires.

Scenario#6: Candidate is not an exact fit for the position he/she interviewed for, but is extremely smart and well-rounded. What do you do with him/her- Hire for skillset match or hire for potential?

  1. First off. Never force fit on promise. Sad as that is, don’t upset your process with the desire to have someone “Workout”.  Seldom happens in marriages, why would it work in the office?
  2. Offer them a contracting position and create a short term role. Good people will find place in a company when the culture or departments accept them
  3. Have them write a perfect job outline or rec.  They interviewed and have X% of matching traits. Maybe they will enlighten you and staff to a whole new role that expands the current requirement and allows them to fit. You never know if you don’t ask. In some roles and large companies this is not possible, in startups. Innovate!

Also, take a read on Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need

“Only about 10% of the people in IT jobs during the Silicon Valley tech boom of the 1990s, for example, had IT-related degrees.”

Thats my take.  What’s yours?

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