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As an entrepreneur, time is not on your side. Yet spending those tedious hours to identify and vet the optimal candidates for your growing company is crucial.
When your team needs to expand rapidly to meet organizational demands and challenges, it’s quite easy to hire the first person who looks good on paper. But making the wrong hire costs about 30% of the individual’s first-year expected earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
I can also tell you from experience that the wrong hire doesn’t just constitute monetary repercussions; it can permeate throughout your organization. It can have a detrimental impact on team morale and cause employees to question your leadership and decision-making abilities. The wrong hire consumes more resources than if you spent the time and due diligence to identify the right employee from the onset. With one wrong move, you’re consulting with employment lawyers, combing over your hastily created HR policies, trying to define how to handle coaching and development, and more.
With a non-profit leadership background, one of my non-negotiables has always been a stubborn focus on the organization’s most important stakeholder — the people. Not only how we can support people as our mission, but how we can develop, foster, and sustain a culture where employees thrive and drive your objectives.
Here’s what I’ve learned about making the right hire.
1. Make sure your new teammates believe in the mission as much as you do.
Hiring people who are passionate about what it is that you and they do is critical. Maybe you’re creating life-saving heart technology or making IT’s job easier with impactful integration tools — whatever the case, this is the first clue you might have identified the right hire.
People want to be part of something that gives them a sense of purpose and pride. There is also an efficacious bottom-line impact. PwC research found 33% of C-suite-level candidates will take a pay cut to work for a mission-driven company. More so, engaged employees perform better according to Gallup: they have higher productivity, higher customer ratings, and result in fewer turnovers.
You’ll notice the employee’s belief was first on my list, not the hard skills needed. While your new teammate should understand their job role and what’s required to accomplish it, passion and enthusiasm for the role and work are paramount. In the long run, someone who is excellent at their job, but not passionate about the business, won’t bring as much to your company as someone who is but may need to learn some hard skills needed on the job.
2. Ask the candidate to complete a work sample.
While it takes more time for you to review, asking for a work sample on a contextualized business case or challenge is critical. You want to assess how your new teammate conceptualizes and executes a specified, informed task.
The key here isn’t that they’ve developed a flawless plan or sample — it’s more about how they’re thinking about the position and your company.
Hiring based on what’s on paper is an easy way to overlook great job applicants, specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) candidates. Companies with a diverse workforce are 45% more likely to report significant growth in market share year over year, and 70% more likely to capture a new market, according to think tank, Coqual.
Related: 6 Tips for Hiring the Right People
3. Look at how the candidate presents data, content, and ideas vs. what’s on paper.
While you need to evaluate the work sample for what it is, how the person presents the data, content, and thoughts about its execution are just as important, if not more so.
How do they present themselves? Their enthusiasm in the topic? What life and previous experiences are they projecting and incorporating? You should encourage them to incorporate both. And a cardinal thought that I urge you to remember is that BIPoC professionals are often pigeon-holed into mainstream notions of White dominant professionalism.
Create an environment where he/she/they can present themselves authentically, beginning at your very first interaction with the candidate. The person you are hiring should be a culture add to your organization — and their diversity matters.
4. The hiring team should comprise team members from across the business.
When you’re making a hire, especially one reporting directly to you, make sure you’re not the only person facilitating the hiring. You should bring in people from across the business, on all levels and layers to meet with them and review their work sample. For instance, if you’re hiring for a partnership position, bring in someone from the development team and account management.
Everyone in your business has a different perspective, background, and organizational charge. They’ll evaluate the candidate with their different methods of thinking and unique lens, and you’ll gain a clearer picture of how this person slots into the organization.
5. Develop a uniformed rubric when hiring to help consolidate everyone’s feedback.
It’s important to have multiple perspectives, and we know that biases have a way of creeping into our hiring processes. When evaluating a candidate, develop a dynamic rubric, so everyone assesses the candidate on what you find most important; this should be specific to the role and your organization.
Not only will this help eliminate biases, but it will also make it easier for you to take a comprehensive look at the candidate instead of a one-dimensional view.
You must spend the necessary time engaging in the process of hiring your most important stakeholders. Ideally, they’ll be part of your business for years, and you want them to be a culture add. They should bring a diversity of thought — in addition to other aspects of diversity — while bolstering your all-important mission.
While it can be easy to rush through hiring for a position, make sure you don’t.
Instead, thoughtfully set aside time to bring the right teammates into your business. Your company, employees, the candidate, and you benefit from the time and effort you exert in this oh-so-important process.
Now go and build your amazing company!