Running a business, and doing a handstand. These two things might feel completely different, but they're actually more alike than you think.

In his most recent letter to Amazon shareholders, Jeff Bezos shared a story of a close friend who was determined to do a handstand. We're talking about a perfect handstand, by the way -- one that's good enough to go on Instagram.

What did Bezos's friend do? She took a handstand workshop and practiced for a while, but when this didn't work, she hired a handstand coach. (I didn't know such a thing existed, either, go figure.)

Here's what this handstand coach said:

Most people think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you're just going to end up quitting.

This really resonated with Bezos -- and he spoke about how entrepreneurs should keep this principle in mind when trying to lead their team.

Here's how Bezos puts it: leaders need to "proactively communicate" and be realistic about how hard something is going to be. If they aren't honest with their team about what it takes to achieve a goal, this makes the goal that much harder to hit.

Applying this principle to hiring

Leadership aside, this principle applies to hiring as well. Like doing a handstand, hiring is harder than it looks. Of course, you'll have it easier if you reduce your expectations, but I'm assuming that you don't want to give up on building your A-team.

That's not all. When hiring, you'll also have to communicate with your candidates, and be honest and upfront about the challenges they might encounter in their job. (If not, your new hire might become disillusioned and give up, like how people give up on perfecting their handstands!)

Now, I've hired a lot of employees in my time. After 10 plus years of trial and error, I finally came up with a foolproof strategy on how to hire awesome talent.

The steps of a great hiring process

First, start off by attracting the right candidates. You shouldn't just rely on job platforms -- the most qualified candidates are already happily employed, and they won't be browsing job sites.

What do you do instead? Tap into your network, and ask all your contacts if they know someone who might be a good fit. On top of that, you can also run targeted Facebook ads. If I were hiring a marketing manager, for example, I'd target someone who has "Liked" Jon Loomer or Neil Patel's Facebook page.

Next, make sure your job ad is attractive. Other than discussing the job scope, sell your company, and entice candidates with your amazing office environment, team culture, or job perks.

To streamline your interviewing process, create a scorecard that details the KPIs that your employee should achieve, as well as the skills they'll need to hit these KPIs. This will bring you clarity on which candidate is the best fit, and it'll also ensure that you and your candidates are on the same page.

Once that's done, it's time to move on to the actual interviewing. Come up with a series of questions to ask your candidates; if you find that their replies are too generic, ask them to elaborate with specific examples.

Finally, get your top candidates to commit to a month-long test phase (paid, of course). During this time, you'll be able to assess your candidates more effectively, and determine if they're truly a good fit for your company.

Hiring A-talent requires time

At this point, you might be thinking: wow, that's a really long, complex process.

Well, you're absolutely right. I'm not going to downplay the effort involved in hiring, or mislead you into thinking that it's a simple task. The more realistic you are about this whole process, the higher your chance of finding your A-player (just like how you have a better chance of perfecting your handstand when you understand the hard work involved).

The bottom line? If you underestimate the time taken to hire, you'll probably end up making a hire mistake. So remember to carve out the necessary time, and use my tried-and-tested action plan when you're making your next hire!

Published on: Oct 12, 2018