Let me ask you a question…How’s your track record at hiring?
If you’re like me, you’ve had a blend of results. There have been hires who were a down right blessing to my organization. I’ve had some hires that haven’t worked out. Some hires took time to really figure out.
If we were being honest with each other we’d have to admit that hiring the perfect person is near impossible.
It’s near impossible because the hiring process itself is hard to repeat. There’s one major reason: people are different every time. Plus, hiring for a leadership role involves a lot intangibles.
In the end, finding and promoting the right leadership is a mix of gut instinct and experience. The process itself takes more time than just a few interviews. Until the candidate is working at your organization with a desk and a computer, you don’t really know if you’ve hired the best person for the job. This is especially true when you’re hiring for a leadership role.
Personally, I want to hire effectively as many times as I can, so I’ve come up with a framework for testing candidates.
Before you start, get rid of the idea of perfection. Understand this…
“Since There Are No Perfect People, There Are No Perfect Candidates”
Instead of focusing on hiring the “perfect person”–the best skills, most affordable salary, best team player–I focus on early “signposts”. These are indicators, or things I watch for early in the interviewing and hiring process.
You can’t ever really know the character and skills of a candidate until you’ve put them in the game. I reference these signposts for the next 90 days. This way, I’m free to learn more about the person, their character, and their skills. I don’t try to predict who they are, they reveal themselves over time.
Here are the top 3 signposts I use when interviewing new leadership candidates.
Signpost#1 – Do They Have the Right Character?
Do they posses the right values, principles and strengths?
Values are the compass you need candidates to have; especially as a leader. Values are what matters most to them internally.
Principles are more or less the rules they’ve decided to follow to implement their values. This is where the positive and negative consequences lie. These are the actions that make their values real.
Strengths will help you see how they process information. It’ll also give you some early indications why they may behave the way they do. You may also discover whether they know who they need to partner with to be effective in their role.
The way I coach my own staff during the hiring process is to remind them, “hiring characters is more important than skills.” There is a lot more to having a successful leader on board your team than what the resume says. You have to really get them to reveal your their character; during the interview and over the next few months.
Knowing their character will give you a sense of how they will handled challenges, stress, lack of direction, successes, communication, people development, and more.
Signpost#2 – Does Their Character Match Your Culture?
If you’re trying to develop a high growth culture, the prospective employee’s character has to match your organization’s culture. This is obvious-sounding. And, it’s probably taken for granted. You need to really stress-test whether your organization will benefit from the candidate being a part of it.
How do you go about finding out whether a candidate is a good fit? Well, for one, I’m assuming you’ve defined what your culture is: what you value, your principles, etc.
Once you know your culture, the best way to test the candidate by putting them in it!
First off, even the questions you ask in the interview can be a cultural-indicator. Are you asking the hard-hitting questions, or just the usual “tell me about your experience at Company ABC.”
Introducing them to key staff is another way to test a match for character and culture. Bring in key employees and their peers as part of the interview question (a little coaching on how to ask hard-hitting questions respectfully is always a good idea here too).
Lastly, design unstructured, unscripted situations to see how they perform. Hire them as a consultant first. Give them a specific problem to solve. See how they do. In fact, why not hire multiple candidates (1-3 ) to consult at the same time. Hold a bake-off. See how they each solve the problem under competitive circumstance. Figure out which approach matches your culture best.
You could do something as simple as schedule two to three different dinner meetings.
Signpost#3 – Do They Believe in Having A “No-Heros Motto
Having a no-heros motto means everyone at the organization believes they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. The result every is a collaborative team, operating under the culture of abundance (the more you give, the more there is overall).
They believe no one person should be the bottlekneck. They believe in engaging the team to move things forward. They don’t worry about whether they’ll get the credit. As Tobias Fredber, from Harvard Business Review says, they are a “leader who passes the credit and takes all the blame.” Having a no-heros motto means the entire team goes out of their way to create systems which aren’t overly dependent on any one person.
Is it hard to figure out whether a candidate believe in the no-heros motto? Yes. But you you should already be attempting to figure this out at the very first interview. Most people just look for a “team player.” This is nice, but poorly defined. The no-heros identity looks at whether they are a team player or not, and even deeper.
Uncover Character Overtime
The truth is hiring a candidate, means hiring a real live human–a person with desires, feelings and a life. It doesn’t take much business experienece to know this makes for unpredictable scenarios. To offset this, you should avoid aiming for perfection all together. You should also realize you can’t tell that much from a single interiew; or even from one or two meetings.
The right resume is still important. But, evaluating resumes without more inputs can be deceiving. People who aren’t in love with their career, or have great potential but can’t produce results, or hiring a smart jerk won’t help you.
Finding the right leader for your organization is a dynamic process. You really have to architect a way to uncover the candidates character over time. If you follow this framework you should have a sense that you’ve the hard work at finding the best fit for your organization.
by Ard vd Leeuw