It's a tight talent market and finding people to make a positive difference in your company is challenging for even the most sought-after employers. Here's how to hire the brightest and most motivated people for your team, according to more than a dozen executives at companies who know what they're doing when it comes to finding the perfect fit.
1. Have them do a case study.
"We provide a case study example relating to the position, and give candidates a few days to work on it. They are then asked to come back to present on how they would go about handling that particular issue or project. This not only allows for the team to learn how this person would approach tasks and challenges in their role, but it also gives the candidate a chance to interact with potential team members in a way that helps them decide if they would be comfortable and would thrive in our company environment. We want hiring to be a two-way street to ensure the best fit."
-Heather Baker, VP of talent management at InContext Solutions, a virtual reality solutions provider for 70-plus retailers and consumer brands, including Walgreens, Walmart and Kellogg's
2. Ask them do a mock presentation and see how well they handle coaching.
"Above all, we look for coachability at Jellyvision. We've very much built our interview process around the ability in mock-coaching sessions. For instance, we have our candidates lead a presentation to a mock organization and kick off the debrief with coaching. We provide feedback and see if they can adjust in real time. Moreover, we're vetting resiliency which is a key component to success in any organization."
-Jessica Hay, VP of sales at Jellyvision, a software provider which helps more than 8 million employees at over 1,000 companies make better decisions about health care benefit options, 401(k) allocations and financial wellness, representing employee insurance premiums totaling more than $110 billion
3. Find their passion.
"At my last venture, a key differentiator for us was that the developers who built our technology stuck around for 10-plus years--8 to 9 years longer than the average employee sticks at the big tech companies in the Valley. If you want people to stick around for 10 years, they'd better be crazy about the work you're paying them to do. So, during the interview process, I always ask potential hires to describe a favorite project they've worked on, whether for work, school or fun. I know I've got a good prospect when they can't stop talking about their project because they're so excited about it."
--Chris Gladwin, cofounder and CEO of Ocient, which makes data analytics software for massive datasets, and founder and former CEO of Cleversafe, a company purchased by IBM for $1.3 billion
4. Figure out what drives the candidate.
"We recruit top talent by ensuring that we can offer them a platform to do the best work of their life. We spend time understanding what inherently drives an employee or candidate, including their long-term goals, even those beyond ThoughtSpot. Companies spend a lot of time to understand what the candidate brings to the table but not nearly enough to understand what the company can bring to the candidate. Striking that balance, however, lets both the candidate and company succeed. It's worth investing the time to provide candidates with a true, 360-degree perspective of the company--everything from your vision to people to culture--to make sure there's a good fit between what you're trying to accomplish as a business and their personal interests."
--Ajeet Singh, cofounder and CEO ThoughtSpot, ranked number one by Forbes as best big data startup and CEO to work for
5. Live the values your company espouses.
"At the core, attracting and retaining top talent is the same thing. You need to be a great place to work and provide a strong community. Every company talks about values and a mission, but the key to getting new people to join and keeping them engaged once they're there is by finding people who share your common values and can help ensure you're actually living them. At the end of the day, that shared culture is the only thing that scales. Whether it's finding people with minimum ego or those with the empathy gene to really focus on customers--these shared values create community. Community is what keeps everyone rowing together towards the same goal. And it's why people choose to join a company when they have other alternatives, and ultimately why they dedicate so much of their personal energy to a shared success."
--Frank Bien, CEO of Looker, a 400-person company with $180 million in funding from Google Capital G, Redpoint, First Round Capital and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers
6. Ask questions which gauge self-motivation.
"In my experience rock stars are self-motivated people with a passion to do something big. The business world is changing rapidly, so you have to like to learn new things, new technologies, and new skills all the time, and it takes self-motivation to do that. I typically ask interview questions that help determine if someone is self-motivated, such as finding out the last book they read... Of course, in order to attract and retain rock stars, employers must have a positive work environment, humble and transparent leadership, and ample growth opportunities. So it is the responsibility of all groups within the company to hire the best people and keep them happy. You can't fake a happy workforce."
--Eric S. Yuan, CEO and founder of Zoom Video Communications, named fifth best U.S. SMB workplace by Glassdoor in 2017
7. Create a sense of collective ownership.
"When employees share a common purpose, they feel emotionally invested in the team and those connections are the foundation of retention. Our culture also helps foster retention by creating a culture in which it is safe to make mistakes, and to own those mistakes. Organizations that have and communicate a strong vision, that provide clear-cut goals with understandable metrics, and that allow employees to learn from their mistakes are more likely to succeed. They will also have a more tight-knit team that performs like rock stars, and that wins together and celebrates success together."
--Mike Tuchen, CEO of Talend, a provider of cloud and big data integration solutions, which saw its stock rise nearly 60 percent over the past year
8. Use values-based behavioral interviewing.
"We've found some of our best hires and top contributors are those who align to our values, culture, and performance expectations from the get-go. To identify them early, we've mapped our desired employee behaviors against our core values so that during the interview process we can quickly assess how a potential new hire would perform in certain situations. Those who align, move quickly through the hiring process. Their success and longevity validates our approach."
--Chatelle Lynch, chief human resources officer for McAfee, and named Chief Human Resources Officer of the Year at the Stevie Awards for Great Employers last year
9. Identify the superpower skill set that maps to your goals.
"Throughout my career--formerly as a CMO and now as an operating partner--CEOs and other executives have asked me 'How can I hire a great marketer?' What makes a good marketing hire depends, in large measure, on your company's primary goals. That's because the marketing team should help every other team succeed and move faster toward those goals. I advise executives to identify their company's big goals, prioritize them, and then map out the marketing expertise they most need to support them. This is an important step because marketing is a broad discipline--it's not a one-size-fits-all field. In most cases, marketing professionals' expertise is focused on one of four areas: performance, corporate, product and brand/creative marketing. To get the best fit, it's essential to ensure your hire's skill set embodies the superpower that best aligns with your goals."
--Viviana Faga, operating partner, Emergence Capital which was named National Venture Capital Association's Venture Capital Firm of the Year, 2017
10. Hire to build your culture, not to fit it.
"For a startup to survive in its initial stages, you've got to innovate, move fast and think differently. Innovation thrives where different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences come together in a healthy way. So, every new hire has to not only offer the right skill set, they have to add to the team's nascent culture. This doesn't mean they have to already fit into the existing mold - but rather should bring a variety of different perspectives to the table."
--Eyal Grayevsky, founder and CEO of Mya Systems, named to CB Insights AI 100
11. Be authentic and transparent.
"People want authenticity and transparency. Sharing who we are as a company, what we stand for and what we care about has been our greatest asset. If you're misrepresenting the true identity of your company when interviewing, you're doing your company and your potential hires an enormous disservice. Be sure you align your culture with your values, hire people based on those values and recruiting talented folks will be no issue at all."
--Amy Zimmerman, head of People at Kabbage, ranked one of the Best Places to Work by GlassDoor in 2017
12. Provide growth opportunities.
"The most sought-after employees want to continuously learn and be constantly challenged. So, during the interview process, it's essential to understand how they want to grow and explain how you will give them that opportunity. Of course, then you need to deliver on it and set them up for success. When people love working for you, they tell their high-achieving friends too."
--Donna Morris, EVP of customer and employee experience for Adobe, which has grown its employee population nearly 30 percent in two years