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Finding the right person for the job

For a service-based company like ours, there are few things that are more crucial to success than finding and hiring the right people.  Service-based industries cannot rely on a product to sell itself, so they must take great care to find the right employees, whether those people are outward facing (for example, sales staff) or inward facing (project managers, programmers, etc).  Having just gone through this process recently, I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts and observations.

I don’t believe you can hire the right person if you don’t know precisely what you’re looking for.  Hiring managers and company executives should take a hard-look at their organization and really drill-down on the type of person they need to fill their crucial roles.  Think about what qualities and skills the role really requires, and make sure those are communicated clearly and effectively in the job ad.  It’s nice to hire a team-player and someone with a good attitude, but for a sales role those may not be the most important qualities to look for.  To save your valuable time, you’ll want to screen-out as many applicants who do not fit the role as possible.

Once you’ve weeded-out the obvious non-fits, you’ll probably want to schedule phone interviews for those candidates with potential.  I like to keep the phone interviews fairly short (30-45 min or so) and use that time to really ascertain if someone has the skill-set and experience that the role requires.  Resumes rarely give you the full picture of someone’s aptitude, but it’s hard to fake competency in a phone interview.  I ask a lot of tough questions, and I follow-up immediately on the answers to those questions.  I press, but in a nice way.

The last step in the process is of course the in-person interview.  I’ve already asked most of the tough questions over the phone, so during this time (typically an hour or so) I like to get a feel for the candidate up close.  Does he or she seem engaged and interested in the job?  Do they seem like the sort who will give our clients the great customer service they deserve, and protect our brand image?  Are they really a good fit for this role, or is it a stretch?

I’ll close by saying this.  When you’ve found someone that you think would be a great fit for the position, extend them an offer right away.  If a candidate is that good, you can bet he or she is likely to be fielding offers from other companies as well.  At the same time, if you don’t find someone you really like, I don’t believe in making an offer just to “put a butt in a seat”.

Nothing costs a company more problems than a bad hire, so take your time in finding the right sort, and then go out and hire ’em!