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5 Hiring Best Practices for Expanding Businesses

Steve Surdez

There are few things more disheartening for a business leader than investing the time, money and training in a new hire only to see the partnership fail. It's painful and can seriously stunt an organzation's growth and hurt its bottom line.

Let's just be honest, here: there is no interview process that will yield perfect results. We are dealing with human beings, and, well, we tend to be a highly complex and unpredictable lot.

All that said, you can mitigate your hiring risk and hopefully increase your reward by employing these hiring best practices for expanding businesses:

Collaborate with Your Team
  • Take a team approach to implementing hiring best practices. Lay out your expectations in advance and organize the collaboration to maximize its impact while minimizing disruption to staff member's jobs. You don't want to do this alone, but you also want to respect your team's time, using them for hiring tasks that match their respective skills and seniority levels.
  • As you wade through a mirky and seamingly bottomless ocean of resumes, ask your team to weigh-in. Let them help you separate the wheat from the chaff and winnow out certain applicants.
  • Designate smaller teams to handle each stage of the interview process. Who will handle the phone interview? Which team members will lead and participate in the first round of interviews and the second and third? Is a team member a better fit to call references or investigate a candidate's online presence than attend the face-to-face meeting?

Put simply, avoid going it alone.

Expanding businesses need to understand that hiring is highly subjective. At the same time, the more subjective perspectives you gather, the more likely it becomes that you'll arrive at a more informed, rational decision about who to bring on board.

At the very least you'll have no regrets and a shared sense of ownership and investment connected to the hire--you and the team did everything you could, together, and you'll own success or failure in the same way.

Require a Demonstration

Eye-catching, well-written and error-free resumes are great. Sparkling portfolios and work samples are wonderful. A great in-person, final interview can be the icing on the cake. All those boxes are now checked.

But have you asked your candidate to do anything except talk? Do not hire until you've required the top candidates to perform the job you'll eventually compensate them for.

  • If they are a programmer, give them a coding assignment.
  • A writer or blogger? Give them a writing prompt.
  • If they're in sales, have them go through a mock scenario where they need to overcome common buying objections. 
  • An accountant? Give them an invoice reconciliation mock scenario and see what they do.

Gut instinct will play its part.

But to get the most complete picture possible, your candidate needs to show you they can do what they say they can do under some pressure.

Test if they can talk the talk AND walk the walk. You'll be happy you put in the extra time to create the test and to evaluate it. This is time well spent.

Check Out a Candidate's Online Persona

In addition to doing background checks and the like, assign a staff member to take a look at a candidate's social media presence. Look at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media channels. 

There is no hard and fast rule for evaluating what you might discover.

And you need to be careful from a legal standpoint about how you use anything you discover (that's a topic for another day).

But taking a look is always a good idea-- it's yet another lens through which you can determine if a candidate is the right fit for your organization and the team he or she will work with most closely.

Interview for Culture Fit

Make sure to include questions or interview discussions about topics beyond skill set and work experience. Technical skill and decades of experience do not always mean a candidate will mesh with your team.

  • Again, there is no magic formula to determine whether a candidate will fit in with and improve your existing team. However, failing to ask questions or engage in interview tactics that bring out personality is a major oversight.
  • Questions about the last book they read, what they do in their free time or the last movie they really liked are safe questions to ask that will almost certainly give you a very basic understanding of what a candidate's personality might be like.
  • It's critical to note that asking highly personal questions about lifestyle, religious affiliations, the age of a candidate or their political leanings--among other potentially highly sensitive topics--can get you in legal hot water fast.

When probing for culture fit, simple and innocuous questions can often provide the insights you need to mitigate culture clash risk. The first step is understanding that time needs to be included in the interview process to ask these "softer" questions.

In summary, there's no certaintly when it comes to hiring.

It's best to accept that some hires will fail, even if you adhere to hiring best practices and go above and beyond when it comes to due diligence.

The best you can hope for is to develop a method and continually improve it over time, so that you incrementally reduce risk while consistently increasing new hire success rates.

If you're a marketing lead or business owner looking for the right team of experts to grow your business, reach out to us today. You can check out the Illumine8 team here as a first step.

If you like what you see, contact us. We'd love to learn more about your organization and its challenges.

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