For entrepreneurs with start up and new businesses, getting the right staff is absolutely crucial. It’s crucial for all businesses of course, but in a small team if there is one person who is not right, it puts a lot of pressure on the others. Making the wrong hires costs money, can damage reputation and of course causes you headaches you don’t need as a leader.
Investing time selecting the right person is time well spent.
Here’s how to do it:
- Know exactly what you want before you start recruiting. Be crystal clear what the job is that you need to be done. This will help you match the right person to the job as well as enable the person to judge whether they can, and want to, do the job.
- Don’t use vague language in adverts like ‘great team player’, ‘self starter’, ‘good communicator’. Be much more specific about what kind of person will likely thrive and fit in.
- Be wary of asking for knowledge and experience that is not actually necessary. Why do they need a degree? Why do they need to have worked in a start up before? Really question yourself as to what experience is essential and why. Hire for ‘will’ when you can teach the skill.
- Think about what kind of person will thrive in the role – what will their natural strengths be, what motivates them, what will they care about? Explore those things at interview so that you get to know the real person.
- Take up references, ideally by phone. Ask the referees what the person loved doing, what did they seem to get a buzz out of. Also asked what kinds of things drained them and what stayed at the bottom of their to-do lists.
It’s worth taking time over appointing new staff as the financial and emotional costs of appointing people who are not right for a job can be very big, and very distracting, indeed.
It’s actually quite rare that traditional interview approaches allow the candidate to be themselves. You need to know what a person is really like so that you, and they, can judge whether they will enjoy the job and do well in it. The pointers above will help enormously to see the human being in the candidates!
Sally Bibb is the Founding Director of Engaging Minds, a specialist strengths consultancy that works with organizations in the private and public sectors including hospitals, prisons and schools. She is also an award winning author of several books including her most recent, The Strengths Book: Discover How to Be Fulfilled in Your Work and Life. (LID Publishing, 2017).