How to Hire the Right People to Grow and Scale

Nov 30, 2020

What percentage of the people that you’ve hired would you gladly rehire? Increasing your hiring success rate is a recruitment strategy that will improve greatly improve your business success.

Have you ever hired someone who had the desire and made an effort but just wasn’t “the right fit”? Regardless of your training, development, and management efforts, they were in the wrong role. These are the people you want to avoid hiring! Likewise, have you ever hired someone who “just gets it,” wants to succeed, and makes an effort? Even without the ideal recruiter training, development, and management, they overcome the obstacles and succeed.

Hiring recruiters who are likely to succeed is a recruitment industry best practice that is critical to scaling a recruiting firm and making more money with less stress. When you study recruiting industry best practices and success, basic formulas apply. Some of these formulas are science-based (objective, measurable, can be taught), and some art (subjective, not measurable) developed through personal experience. The key to hiring success is separating the art and science pieces and then executing each well.  Otherwise, you’ll fall back on “gut feel,” which is directly related to much you like the person. Liking a person may have nothing to do with how well they would perform in a job. The fact is that learning how to hire recruiters who develop into successful recruiters is very difficult. Most recruiting firm owners and leaders never learn how to do this well and suffer financial loss and stress as a result!

Three primary aspects determine fit. When you get each of these right, you can execute an effective and repeatable hiring process. This assures a high probability of new hire success. A critical part of how to scale a recruiting firm is to minimize the disruption of frequent poor hires.

1. The right “innate characteristics/wiring” for your position. This is how people behave when they are “being themselves” (where they naturally want to put their attention and energy). For example, being good at and enjoying detail-oriented, repetitive work. To determine which innate characteristics are critical for success, take an objective view of the specific behaviors a person would display to excel in the job. These are the traits you want to measure. When work aligns well with innate characteristics, people operate in their “genius zones” and enjoy what they do. Since these traits tend to remain stable through our lifetimes, they’re the first area to screen for fit.

2. The right “character & values for your position: These traits are developed over time and include things like work ethic, honesty, respectfulness to others, impulse control, grit, and resilience. Character & values are subject to change if the person really wants to change. It’s reasonable to expect some change due to the impact of company behavioral norms and seeing the benefits of changing. However, it’s wise to avoid hiring people with significant gaps between desired and actual character & values.

When your culture aligns well with a person’s character & values, you’ll have a good culture fit. Most people who’ve tolerated “bad behavior” to keep a high biller have learned this lesson! A person who is a high-producer but a poor culture fit will almost always bring more negatives than positives.

3. Adequate skills and experience for your position: Skills and experience are learned, while the other factors are either innate or more challenging to change. Thus, you can usually flex more here than in the other two areas. Get clear on the skills & experience people must “walk in” with v.s. learn. If you require somebody with” solid sourcing experience,” write out what this means to you with clear specifics (for example, skilled at doing Boolean searches on LinkedIn and screening profiles to determine fit with job requirements). Note: The most successful recruiting firms rarely hire people with prior industry experience. They've learned that hiring people with the right innate characteristics, character, and values is better. Then they train them to do things their way!

How to objectively assess fit

Let’s address a dirty little secret: most people believe they’re better at gauging people’s characteristics than they really are. Humans are loaded with “cognitive biases” that impair our ability to be objective with other people. This article intends to help you implement a process to offset the pull these biases will exert. Below are specific ways to accomplish this task for each of the three primary aspects of fit.

  • Use a quality assessment tool to gauge “innate characteristics/wiring” for your position. It’s best to use a tool that looks below the surface behaviors to identify what’s actually driving these behaviors. Most assessments fall short in this area.
  • To assess “character & values for your position: develop good, open-ended interview questions to gauge these traits as objectively as possible. One approach is to think of typical situations that occur in your company and build the questions around these. Develop your questions in advance, write them out, and take good notes. The most successful hiring managers don’t wing it!
  • To gauge “skills and experience”: develop quality, open-ended interview questions that people can’t fake their way through. Think of actual situations where they will use the required skills in your firm. Build questions around “how,” “what,” and “why,” and, of course, take good notes.

Final Thoughts

Below are some key points to put the above principles into action so that you hire top-performers and minimize bad hires:

  • It’s usually more effective to hire people with the desired innate characteristics, character & values and then train people to develop the required skills & experience. You cannot count on hiring " ready-made " people to walk in and perform.
  • It’s wise to have others interview the people you are interested in if possible. We all have blind spots, so it’s helpful to have people who differ from us weigh in.
  • Don’t assume that someone will succeed with you just because they were successful in a different company or have excellent references. The traits that caused them to succeed in one environment may be what causes them to fail in yours.

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