As a strategic coach, I spend the bulk of my time with CEOs and leadership teams of high-growth companies, helping them set strategic goals and driving accountability on execution. Again and again, I see these companies struggle with finding the right people and effectively onboarding them.
Getting hiring wrong can be a nightmare. Lost time, energy, and money are all immediate and obvious. But less visible is the frustration and hit to team morale that a mis-hire can lead to. Over time, this can cause a business to develop a bad reputation in the market and hinder its ability to grow.
There are a few core strategies that I've seen work really well in most cases when a business needs to hire and onboard a new employee.
1. Define the process
Being thoughtful about how you're approaching the process, getting clear on the role you're trying to fill, and designing an interview process that ensures you'll have a good cultural fit, in addition to the skills for the job, is all time well spent.
By specifying the stages of the interview, the number of people the candidate will be meeting with, what questions will be asked, and how the information is processed will ensure that things run smoothly and that you'll be able to compare candidates effectively and fairly.
2. Define your expectations
I've seen many companies cycle endlessly through candidates because they haven't clarified what they are hiring for and what criteria they are prioritizing in the process.
Take the time before you even post a job opening to define what the role is, its key responsibilities, how success will be measured, and any other expectations or performance requirements. Being able to clearly articulate what the job entails before you hire someone will make it vastly easier to manage them once they're on board.
3. Set the bar
The fact is that there is always a better candidate out there somewhere. The challenge is in making the decision about how much time and energy you are willing to spend trying to find them. The search for perfect is a never-ending and impossible task.
The best strategy I've seen to overcome this challenge is to set a minimum number of candidates to interview for a given role (usually five to eight people). Chances are you've interviewed as least one person in the top twenty percent of the market. Then set your standard to the best of that lot and hire the next person who meets or beats that bar.
4. Engage your team
Take the time and effort to have your team involved in the process. While not everyone needs to have a formal say in the hiring decision, it's important to have the folks who will be working with your new hire to have a say and to get to know them, and vice versa.
This can happen in the form of group/team interviews where people get a chance to meet a candidate and ask some structured and unstructured questions. It can also be casual, where the team takes a candidate out to lunch or coffee to get to know them.
5. Don't oversell yourself
Too often I see companies working very hard to sell themselves in the interview process. They hype up the company and the role and talk about all of the amazing benefits and opportunities. And while you do need to put your best foot forward, you also need to be careful of overselling yourself.
Good interview processes make it very clear what it's like to work at the company and what is expected of people. If the company is really competitive and everyone is highly driven by personal performance, there is no good reason to try to sell yourselves as a highly collaborative culture. While you might be able to convince a candidate that you are, it's going to be bad for both of you in the end.
I like the final stages of the interview process to be a frank conversation. This is basically where I list out the downsides and difficult things about the company and make sure the candidate is really ready and willing to take on the challenge. It's best for anybody to start a new job with their eyes wide open.
Hiring is tough and no company I've worked with has nailed it every time. However, those companies who can get it right more often than the competition will have a strategic advantage when it comes to growing quickly and effectively over time.