7 tips for hiring great staff
Updated: Nov 17
Recently I decided to hire someone to join me at Clarity for Christian Schools as a consultant in the US working one day a week. I wrote the job ad and paid to run it on LinkedIn.
Six weeks later I had received 40 job applications—approximately half with a Masters Degree or Phd—and offered a role to a brilliant consultant who is now working with me.
So, how did I do it? And how can you hire great staff, too?
1. Lead with purpose
In 2020, people will be looking for meaningful work. Lead with the purpose behind your organisation to attract people who are inspired by your vision.
- Share your organisation’s purpose at the start of job ads and interviews.
2. Humble, hungry, people smart
These three traits are outlined in Patrick Lencioni’s book The Ideal Team Player. People who struggle in one or more of these areas are challenging to work with whereas people who are strong in these areas make great team players.
- Mention these three traits explicitly in your job ads and assess them in interviews.
3. Core values
What are your organisation's core values? Core values aren't generic, they represent the DNA of your organisation. Usually organisation's have three or four core values.
If someone isn't aligned with your organisation's core values, you want them to realise during the interview process, “Not only would I not fit in here, but I wouldn’t enjoy this role because they’re so fanatical about these things.”
- Have your core values front of mind in the hiring process and make sure candidates are aware that these are non-negotiables. If you don't know what your organisation's core values are, then prioritise finding out.
4. Multi-layered application process
Once people apply, don’t move straight to interviews. Read over cover letters and resumes and send an email to a shortlist with a couple of specific questions. Then, create another shortlist and arrange a 10 minute phone call to get a gut feel which will help you decide who to interview.
- Create a process that gives you as much insight into candidates as possible with the least time required. In my follow up email after someone applied, I asked what piqued their interest about the job, what their DISC, Enneagram, StrengthsFinder and MyersBriggs profiles were (if known) and what they considered to be their most significant accomplishment in life, so far.
5. Group interview panels
When you decide to interview someone, avoid being the only interviewer. Group interview panels are great because you all have different perspectives and can discuss these after the interview to help make better decisions.
- Invite others to join you for interviews. If you don't have any team members yet, then ask some people you respect to be part of an advisory HR panel where they sit in on interviews and give you their opinion without any other expectations.
6. Unusual interviews
The purpose of an interview isn't to tick a box. In an interview you're making a judgment based on an hour or a couple of hours that could impact multiple lives for months and years ahead. With this in mind, the goal of an interview should be to do whatever possible in order get a solid vibe for what it would be like to work with the candidate.
- Lencioni suggests conducting unusual interviews by taking candidates on errands or inviting them over for dinner to get out of the sterile office environment so you get a sense of what a candidate is really like.
Pro tip: watch how candidates interacts with people like wait-staff and cashiers to look for any sign of arrogance, pride or obnoxiousness. If candidates treat anyone at all with less respect because of their job then that's a red flag no matter how skilled and experienced they are.
7. Trust your gut
What's the worst experience you've ever had with an employee, colleague or boss? In the very rock bottom moment of that circumstance, how much time, money and effort would you have invested to be able to go back in time and not have to work with that person.
Hire with that perspective in mind. A 2 degree misalignment in an interview can turn out to be a 90 degree misalignment 24 months down the track with carnage trailing behind.
Trust your gut.
If anything doesn't sit right for you—or anyone else involved in the hiring process—pay attention. At the end of the day, if it's between two candidates and there's something off for both of them... tell them both no and keep looking.
Great staff are out there and it's always worth the effort to find them.