In over two decades of executive and professional recruiting I have learned some useful techniques for finding the right candidates.
Imagine you are tasked with hiring your next CEO or Executive Director. How do you begin to evaluate candidates past the resume and ultimately find the person who is going to do the job, be loyal, and build a loyalty culture from within? Everyone will say they can, but not everyone will.
My 5 insider steps for hiring the best:
#1. There are at least 5 essential questions you need to ask yourself and the candidate, and when I say need to ask, you need to ask. 1. Can the person do the exact job you are recruiting for and the job of the future? 2. Is the candidate motivated based on resume and in-person interviews? 3. Is this candidate manageable across the existing team you have? 4. Does this person fit your culture? 5. Can this candidate build culture from within?
#2. Have multiple interviews. I always like the process to begin with a skill-based interview that gives me an apples-to-apples comparison. Each candidate gets the same question and is walked through the same process. The benefit of this is to have everyone on the most level playing field possible, so you can assess who is prepared, who has the skill, who shows up under pressure well, and so on. Then you can compare candidates easily. From there you get to fit. Your first interviews can be in your office with their purpose to assess skill. The second interview is meant to dive deeper into the individual and to assess personality and culture fit. Usually two formal interviews are a good start with a third interview meant to relax the candidate and to really get to know them. My personal favorite is to do a casual meeting over lunch or breakfast as it allows the candidate to settle in and allows them to really show their true colors. The order should go: First interviews with your top four or five candidates. Second interview, you have winnowed down to top two candidates. The third interview is for your final candidate, off-site, over lunch just prior to offer. This exercise is very beneficial for the candidate, too. It allows them to meet the team, the managers, and it let’s them put names to faces. It also helps the candidate through the transition of their career and the change process so the employment offer does not get sidetracked due to feelings of fear, hesitancy and buyer’s remorse. Last tip, you should always have a backup candidate in your pocket in case your final candidate allows their fear to get the best of them or doesn’t work out for whatever reason.
#3. Do not always meet at your office. Meet the candidate outside the confines of the expected. When candidates are in your corporate office, or the office of your recruiting partner, people are less likely to be themselves. So, when you interview candidates, meet off-site, make it casual and non-corporate. You will find you see the candidate in a new light when they are outside of the corporate environment where their behaviour will match the surroundings they are in.
#4. Passion isn’t found on paper but it’s passion you must have. All things being equal, skills, experience, salary, I always choose the person with the most passion for the position and their past experience. These are the kinds of people who usually step up, help out, drive performance in positive ways based on their leadership, and can elevate people, teams, and culture. I have had candidates who are passionate and others who show less passion, though they might be technically adept. Passion for work, for career and the people around them are strong signals that should not be ignored. Choose passion.
#5. If they don’t ask good and important questions based on their research of your company, this is a red flag. Yes, you want them to answer your questions completely, succinctly, backed by experience and examples. However, if that candidate asks no questions, few questions, or less than important questions, or shows in other ways they haven’t taken the time to learn about you, then this is a bad sign. Do not overlook it when a candidate doesn’t ask her or his own questions as this is a sign of someone without the curiosity (or the passion) to look into your organization, ask questions, and ask themselves if you are a right fit for them. Imagine if you didn’t ask questions of that candidate? That wouldn’t make any sense and it would leave the candidate wondering. You also need to wonder when they don’t ask questions important to them in return. Hiring the right people is critical to the success of your business. Having to do the process once can be daunting enough. Doing it over and over again can feel like blunt-force trauma to you but the biggest damage is happening to the business, in costs to rehire, retrain, and reintroduce to your customers. The less time you spend finding the right person, the more time you have for growing the business you have.
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