To Hire Well, Keep the Job Description

We borrowed much of the title from an INC Magazine online blogpost of this morning, which went into the fact that one should be a little more experiential in hiring.

In our experience, being experiential is exactly wrong for small business, because they don’t have the resources to easily recover from a hiring mistake. Large corporations do, but not INC’s target market.

We recommend you keep the job description, but make several important changes to it when you start the interview process (more is laid out in our courses A14 for starups, and E10, done by the estimable Julie Fletcher (she’d be doing this blog if she weren’t so busy doing M&A work). Both courses stress the same approaches, however:

1. List the attributes that you want in the hire, such as punctuality (yes, you can do that), positive attitude, good technical skills (for tech positions), good english, thinking like an entrepreneur (especially in startups), and stick to what you want. In our experience, if you do, your hire will work out better. We guarantee it. It’s when entrepreneurs deviate from these principles that they don’t hire right.

2. The other thing that we recommend is that you rank each of the attributes on a scale of one to five, five being most important. For example, if you’re hiring a welder, welding skill is a five, and attitude is a five, because you want the welder to attack all sorts of projects with enthusiasm. However, good english might be a three. Punctuality might be a five.

3. If you have successful employees in the job for which you’re hiring (we hope you’re expanding), use their attributes to profile your ideal hire. If you don’t have a success model of attributes and rankings for the successful employee, think one up. You know what you want, or based on past experience, what you don’t want. 

4. Beware, to some extent, the employee who comes in the door and appears to meet all your criteria, and even ranks well. No one is that good. Have a staff member or partner interview him/her. Also check references, and talk to prior employers; you’re legally constrained from officially finding out why they left, but many employers will tell you off the record. 

This is a rather cursory summary of what you should do; it’s really worth it to take our two courses on the subject. After all, you’re going to invest a lot of money in that employee until he/she is trained up to snuff (very few come in the door ready to go).

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