Finding the right people to hire can be challenging.
I have recently spent the last couple of months looking at resourcing plans and preparing to bring on-board new talent for a big initiative at work. On one hand, it is reassuring that you have support to help do the work, and that it is not expected that you do it all yourself. On the other hand, it is a tremendous responsibility to make the right decision. A poor decision can significantly delay the progress of a project and upset the dynamic within your already established team. Both talent and inter-personal skills need to be carefully assessed. Most often, there is a lot at stake.
So it’s important to rely on your keenest sense; your gut.
Some folks will say that you know all you need to know about someone after a five minute conversation. I happen to agree.
The only time I have made a serious mistake in hiring is when I did not listen to my gut instinct, and allowed myself to be convinced by others that this individual was a good fit for the job. Ultimately, he was not. But I already knew that! And if you afford yourself the confidence to rely on your gut, you will also be able to assess candidates rather quickly.
Yes, you need to look at resumes, analyze stated skills and talk with references. But more often than not, you have many qualified candidates on paper. You have to go further in your analysis.
Here are some of the strategies that I rely on to find the right talent:
1- Use of social media: I expect that candidates have a footprint on the internet, i.e.: profiles, articles, achievements, etc. I dig around, and look for clues as to the individuals passions, personality and behaviours. This can be very telling!
2- The phone call: before meeting a candidate, I schedule a 15 minute call with them. I spend 5 minutes introducing myself and the position by which they are being considered for. And then I listen. Do they have intelligent questions to ask? How forthcoming are they about why they are looking for a new opportunity? From there, I always end the call with a final question; “Why do you want to work in our organization?” The response to this question can be very telling as well.
3- Leveraging your professional network: I trust my instincts, AND the instincts of those I have forged positive working relationships in the past. I call them for their input on suggested candidates. In most cases, this is far more accurate than a standard reference call with a name that has been provided by the candidate themselves.
4- Look for passion: I love candidates who are energetic and passionate. This is a quality that cannot be taught, but is contagious within a group and much needed for positive teamwork and collaboration.
5- And most importantly, ensure that you candidate is willing to learn: there is no such thing as a candidate having all of the skills on Day 1 to do the work successfully. They might be skilled and experienced, but they must learn about the organization, the culture, the role, the team dynamics, and the specifics of the job itself. A candidate who is unwilling to learn, or (even worse!) believe they already have all of the answers is a big red flag. Stay clear of this individual at all costs!
Be forthcoming in your questions to your candidates. Don’t be shy about asking what you really need to know (within reason, and related to the work, of course!). And then listen to your candidates. They will tell you all you need to know by what they say, and also by what they don’t say.