You and I both know that hiring talented people for your business is key, but the actual hiring process? That part is a lot easier said than done.

These days, and particularly for startups, it's important that companies resist limiting their search to just technical skills or relevant experience in a candidate. They also need to find talent that best aligns with the company's culture.

From the interview process, it's not always possible to be 100 percent sure that the candidate you choose will fit well into your existing team's dynamic, but there are ways to make this a driving factor for how you conduct interviews.

So, what is the best way to nail your hiring process so that you get an ideal candidate that jives with the team's dynamic and fits culturally?

I recently talked about this with Carlos Reines on Unmessable, a podcast I host. Reines is an entrepreneur who was recently nominated by the World Economic Forum as "Young Global Leader." His company, RubiconMD--an e-consult platform that connects primary care clinicians with specialists for remote opinions--apparently saved more than 2.5 million days of patients waiting for consultations.

Reines told me that he obsesses over having the right team in place, and that it didn't come easy for him. He made a bunch of rookie hiring mistakes that he later had to correct. He hired people who were technically talented but a total culture mismatch. He found himself lured by Ivy League credentials, even when the candidate didn't play well on teams. After much trial and error, he designed a hiring process to foster a culture where, he says, 97 percent of employees report feeling valued. That directly impacts bottom line and performance.

In particular, Reines mentioned three startup hiring practices that really caught my eye:

1. Get internal alignment on a clear definition for the new role.

You'd think that getting internal alignment on a role ahead of hiring is standard, but I know so many companies that fail to do it well. The first step toward a smooth hiring process is to create alignment around a clear definition for the role, one that goes beyond just the job title and job description.

What are the metrics for success? Objectives and key results? What are some attributes the right candidate will hold for a role of this nature?

Do you know that saying, "it takes a village to raise a child?" Well, in many cases, it can take a village to hire the best candidate.

Reines said it was important for his company to rid hiring biases by assembling a cross-functional interview team, which typically consists of six or seven individuals from different areas and backgrounds. Each is asked to screen for specific attributes in the candidate. Failure to do this, he told me, has the potential to undermine the entire hiring process.

Having hired a number of people, I know how easy it is to hire the people you like, but that may not be the best fit for the company or its culture. Selecting key team members to conduct the interviews will help to reduce your default hiring biases.

2. Set up a scoreboard system and interview your top candidates.

Fair is fair, and it's hard to argue against fairness when scorecards are involved. Using a scorecard system allows each interviewer to evaluate candidates on certain areas. Design your scoreboard to cover areas like leadership, culture, critical thinking and role-based knowledge, as well as role-based aptitude for optimum results.

It's also important not to influence the thinking of a fellow interviewer during the hiring process. Keep your opinions to yourself until your scorecards are completed, and then gather for a final team debriefing to align and determine next steps.

3. Regularly iterate on your hiring process based on what's worked and what hasn't.

While it's crucial that teams determine an effective hiring process targeting the best talent, perfection is damned near impossible. Regularly iterating on your hiring process will help smooth over the kinks. When seemingly little issues are brushed under the rug if the candidate is highly qualified from a skill perspective, they almost always will resurface later.

I remember hiring a community manager once. During the interview, she was shy and reserved. I chalked it up to interview jitters, but actually, it wasn't. It turned out that she had poor communication skills.

For a community manager, that was a problem. If concerns come up during the post-interview debrief, thoroughly addressing them can mitigate any hiring mistakes.

Published on: Jul 16, 2019
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