This year I’ve had the pleasure of hiring a few new staff members as well as branching out into the recruitment business. I’ve also recently seen a lot of bad hiring decisions on behalf of some friends and clients and felt it would be a good time to discuss some thoughts on hiring.
When you’re in a big corporate you’ve got an entire HR department to handle situations such as this. They’ll accept CV’s, filter through the candidates, interview them and then check for cultural fit. It’s a slow process but there are reasons for that.
If you’re like me, you run a small to medium size business and you either haven’t got an HR department or a single person to handle the load. It’s tough out there so I put together some thoughts on the matter:
- Don’t hire based on a CV: This is probably totally counter intuitive to traditional HR practices but a CV is akin to a social media profile: no one writes about their failures, flaws or mistakes. A CV is for many, worth the paper its written on and the exorbitant price of ink used to print. I often laugh when people ask for references: who in their right mind is going to give you the name of someone that will provide a poor reference?
- The work, the work, the work: As a small business you know that you inevitably have to do the job of between three to thirty people depending on the day. When it comes to hiring people, you need someone who is willing to jump in. A better interview question than “where do you see yourself in 5 years” would probably be “so you’re interviewing for x position, would you also be able/interested in handling multiple roles and which areas specifically”.
- Hire for enthusiasm and drive: This may not apply to Nuclear Scientist or Applied Mathematician roles but you don’t need to know everything about the job on day one. This goes back to my previous point: you want a person that can learn quickly rather than know everything.
- Trust your gut: Assuming you didn’t have a very spicy meal the night before an interview I always recommend that you trust your gut. In a small to medium sized business you’ll be working with your new employee a lot. You’ll see them more than your loved ones so you better make sure you like them. Hire for cultural fit rather than ticking the right boxes. I recently hired someone to run our recruitment business with no recruitment experience. She just “felt right”, has the enthusiasm and the admin/organisation skills I totally lack.
- Hire people who can run your company for you: If you want to work forever then don’t be self employed. Hire people who will be able to eventually take over the business so you can focus on different areas or move on all together.
Hiring people doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. Follow your gut, get the right people and make sure you have defined expectations.