the best team wins: build your busi­ness through pre­dic­tive hir­ing

The Smart Manager - - Reading Room - by adam robin­son

Most en­trepreneurs and busi­ness man­agers don’t con­duct in­ter­views. In­stead, they have con­ver­sa­tions. When a job can­di­date comes for an in-per­son in­ter­view, man­agers and en­trepreneurs talk about how great their busi­ness and their em­ploy­ees are. They talk about the growth prospects, their client list, and how they made the Inc. 500 list last year. The man­ager tells the can­di­date how much they would love work­ing there. Mean­while the can­di­date sits, smil­ing and nod­ding, lis­ten­ing to the hir­ing man­ager gush. In­evitably, the man­ager will stop, look at the can­di­date, and say, “So, enough about us. Why do you want to work here?”

The can­di­date then re­peats back ev­ery­thing the man­ager just said, par­rot­ing the hir­ing man­ager s rea­sons for want­ing the position. The man­ager and the can­di­date ban­ter back and forth un­til time runs out. The can­di­date leaves, ex­cited about the com­pany, but not ex­actly sure what the job en­tails. The man­ager leaves, ex­cited about the can­di­date, but with­out a clue about how the per­son would per­form.

Later, the man­ager ex­tends an of­fer, the can­di­date ac­cepts it, and six months after­ward the man­ager and the can­di­date are both frus­trated be­cause nei­ther one un­der­stood or man­aged their ex­pec­ta­tions. Does this sce­nario sound fa­mil­iar?

Most peo­ple are nice, and peo­ple want to con­nect with oth­ers. En­trepreneurs are ac­cus­tomed to in­for­mal­ity, and that ca­su­al­ness trans­lates into their in­ter­view style. The re­sult is an in­ter­view ap­proach that goes a long way to­ward build­ing rap­port but falls short of elic­it­ing in­for­ma­tion that pre­dicts the can­di­date’s suc­cess.

To cor­rect this prob­lem, en­ter what I call the tal­ent mind­set. The tal­ent mind­set is the hir­ing man­ager’s ver­sion of be­ing in the zone. It’s a men­tal prepa­ra­tion that read­ies you, the hir­ing man­ager, for hav­ing an en­gag­ing and pro­duc­tive in­ter­view with your can­di­date. How do you know you’re in the tal­ent mind­set?

01 you’re pre­pared

The first step in creat­ing a tal­ent mind­set is prepa­ra­tion. If you have to fum­ble around for the right ques­tions to ask, you’re not go­ing to have a good in­ter­view. By con­trast, if you only have to ask ques­tions and lis­ten, you’ve set up an ideal sit­u­a­tion.

02 you’re com­fort­able

Most of us don’t like judg­ing oth­ers.

Be­ing in the tal­ent mind­set means guard­ing your com­pany’s cul­ture like the ir­re­place­able as­set that it is. If you’re go­ing to cre­ate a com­pany full of su­per­stars, you can’t let a sin­gle bad ap­ple into the bar­rel.

Fight the urge to be ev­ery­one’s friend; it will de­stroy your abil­ity to con­duct a solid in­ter­view. It’s hard for many of us to ob­jec­tively find fault in oth­ers, es­pe­cially if they’re like­able. Get into the tal­ent mind­set so you are ready to judge the abil­i­ties and ac­com­plish­ments of an­other per­son. Un­der­stand that your mis­sion is to de­ter­mine whether or not this per­son will suc­ceed in your open role. We’re not choos­ing friends. Hir­ing mis­takes cost a lot of money.

03 you’re pro­tec­tive

A com­pany cul­ture takes years to cre­ate, but one bad hire can throw it into to­tal melt­down. Many of us have had the ex­pe­ri­ence of know­ing on a new em­ployee’s first day that we’ve made a hir­ing mis­take, be­cause two or three of our em­ploy­ees are vis­i­bly dis­turbed when speak­ing to them (and per­haps have even told us so). Be­ing in the tal­ent mind­set means guard­ing your com­pany’s cul­ture like the ir­re­place­able as­set that it is. If you’re go­ing to cre­ate a com­pany full of su­per­stars, you can’t let a sin­gle bad ap­ple into the bar­rel. Pro­tect your com­pany’s cul­ture as if it were the most im­por­tant part of your job, be­cause it is.

Be­fore you con­duct your next in-per­son in­ter­view, walk through the fol­low­ing ques­tions to de­ter­mine if you’re in the tal­ent mind­set: Am I pre­pared for this in­ter­view? Am I ready to judge an­other per­son? Am I ap­proach­ing this in­ter­view as a guardian of my com­pany’s cul­ture?

If the an­swers are yes, you’ve set your­self up for the in­ter­view­ing and hir­ing suc­cess.

the in-depth in­ter­view

Af­ter you’ve in­ter­viewed enough ap­pli­cants through your tele­phone in­ter­views to yield three to five vi­able can­di­dates, you’ve com­pleted the first round of your hir­ing process. Now, you carry for­ward the best can­di­dates for the sec­ond round. At this point, you should be rea­son­ably cer­tain that these can­di­dates would likely per­form well in the open role. The goal of the sec­ond in­ter­view is to find out which of your can­di­dates will have the high­est like­li­hood of suc­cess. This stage is where we at­tempt to poke around in­side the can­di­date’s head and find out what makes them tick. This is how you’ll iden­tify the can­di­date to take for­ward to the next step.

I rec­om­mend sched­ul­ing one in-per­son in­ter­view per day on con­sec­u­tive days. This sched­ule keeps you in the tal­ent mind­set and makes it eas­ier for you to com­pare and con­trast re­sults. You should budget ap­prox­i­mately two hours for each in­ter­view to give your team and the can­di­date am­ple time. Once the in­ter­view begins, set the stage, get the can­di­date a bev­er­age of their choice, and cre­ate a pos­i­tive, re­laxed tone. By this stage of the in­ter­view process, you will have talked with your can­di­date in some de­tail dur­ing the phone screen, so it should be easy to es­tab­lish rap­port. If you are strug­gling to con­nect with your can­di­date dur­ing the sec­ond in­ter­view, I’d have some se­ri­ous con­cerns about cultural fit.

Un­like the tele­phone screen, the sec­ond round should be con­ducted with an in­ter­view buddy. You, as the hir­ing man­ager, should ask the ques­tions, while your in­ter­view buddy lis­tens in­tently and takes notes. As you’ll soon dis­cover, the in­ter­view ques­tions em­ployed in the sec­ond round are much deeper and thought pro­vok­ing than sim­ple jo­bre­lated in­quiries. I men­tion this point be­cause in the in-per­son in­ter­view, your in­ter­view buddy will have a lot of con­tent to ab­sorb and they’ll need to pre­pare ac­cord­ingly. ■

Ex­cerpted from The Best Team Wins: Build Your Busi­ness Through Pre­dic­tive Hir­ing (Green­leaf / 2017). Copy­right (c) 2017 Adam Robin­son. Reprinted with per­mis­sion of the author. All rights re­served.

Adam Robin­son Green­leaf 2017, USD20.95, 222 pgs, Hard­cover

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