While an early-stage startup and America's largest private-sector employer might not have much in common, when it comes to hiring, there are some universal truths. Every business strives to attract the best talent and looks for strategies to make the hiring process more streamlined and fairer.
It's about "being really clear and consistent in every action one takes as it relates to talent," says Amy Goldfinger, senior vice president of talent acquisition at Walmart.
Here are six ways she suggests living that advice to better recruit great employees.
1. Strive for consistency.
That means "getting really clear about what you stand for and what's important to you in hiring, and what is going to reinforce the culture you want to build at your company," Goldfinger says. Once you can clearly communicate your values and your hiring goals, let them inform every step of your hiring process--from writing job ads and interviewing to on-boarding new employees.
2. Spread the word.
Most companies don't have name recognition on par with Walmart's, so you'll want to share your business's story widely. Naturally, candidates will be more inclined to apply if they've heard of your company. Plus, that familiarity with your company's backstory may breed good feelings toward the brand. Goldfinger notes that adding a personal touch is also a good idea. While newer methods--like texting applicants rather than calling them--can be useful, she believes direct human interaction can't be beat: "People are drawn to how we show up as people."
3. Level the playing field.
Make sure each candidate has a positive experience with your company, whether or not they're hired. Also, take a hard look at your hiring process and eliminate unconscious bias. "Make sure your interview panels are diverse," Goldfinger advises. At Walmart, she adds that managers lean on behavioral interview questions, which, in addition to offering a more holistic view of candidates, have been shown to reduce bias on the part of the interviewer.
4. Ask about real-life experiences.
Asking about what candidates have accomplished in reality versus posing hypothetical queries will help you determine whether they have the right attributes and attitude to succeed at your company. "We dig very, very deep into what people have done and how they did it," says Goldfinger, referring to Walmart's preference for behavioral interview questions. "We're not as wedded to whether it was successful--we want to understand how you operated."
5. Hire people unlike yourself.
While it's important to get along with your employees, of course, hiring people based on whether you like them as people--that is, the old "airport test"--is risky. You could end up with an employee who's fun to have around--and, as the hiring trope goes, you wouldn't mind getting stuck in an airport with--but isn't a good fit for the job. This kind of subjective metric is insufficient, says Goldfinger. You'll run the risk of hiring mostly people who are similar to you, when research has shown that diverse perspectives make your company stronger. "It's [also] an easy way to avoid the tough questions," she adds.
6. Identify and hire for key personality traits.
At Walmart, altruism is a key trait that hiring managers look for. Goldfinger adds that the "test and learn" mentality is also vital. A candidate's willingness to try new ways to solve problems and learn from mistakes shows that they're open and adaptable. The best hires, she says, will bring that way of thinking to their jobs: "Test, learn, fail, succeed, test, learn--succeed more than you fail, we hope, but learn from that. It's sort of special, but not distinctive to our size."