Have you ever been on a team where one person seemed to throw everything off balance? It usually goes like this: Ideas start to flow and then this person speaks up and progress screeches to a grinding halt. The air is sucked out of the room followed by an awkward silence.
This is why hiring is so critical. It only takes one bad fit to thwart the progress of an entire team. You’ve heard people tell you to “hire well,” but what does that really mean? And what does it take to implement a modern hiring system that takes advantage of the latest best practices? Let’s talk through some of the most important tenants of better hiring.
#1. Don’t hire your brother, best friend, neighbor, bible study leader, or your crazy cousin, Larry.
It’s tempting, I know. Your sister is your best friend and you just know she’d be a great Sales Manager. Your neighbor has been out of work for three months and you really want to help. Resist the urge. Hiring family, friends, friends of family, or family of friends is almost always hiring for the wrong reasons.
Think about it, what does your relationship to the person have to do with their likelihood of success at the job? Try not to think about how good you’ll feel when giving the person a job, or how excited you’ll be to have lunch with them once a week—neither matters to the success of your company. Think instead about how it would feel to fire them, ‘cause that’s where you’re headed.
Need more reasons not to mix friends and business? Take a look at this article from JobDig on who not to hire.
#2. Hire for cultural fit over skills.
People can learn hard skills. I’d rather have a fast learner who’s excited to join the team than someone who already knows the required technical skills, but seems pretty stuck in their ways. Too often I see job requirements that list “5+ years of this,” “3+ years of that.” Really? Someone needs to have been doing something for five years to qualify? You might be eliminating a large pool of great candidates with this type of criterion.
How do you hire for cultural fit? Well that’s a topic that deserves its own post and then some. I can tell you that the first step is to have a purposefully designed culture rather than a culture by default. So that’s a great place to start.
#3. Always be hiring.
It’s not a new idea that taking your time with hiring can reap benefits—or rather hiring too quickly can be disastrous. Remember the importance of this decision before making a quick hiring decision just to plug a leak. But how do you avoid getting into a situation where you have a leak to plug?
One answer is to listen to this article from Fast Company and “always be interviewing.” Consider interviewing to be a continuous process. You don’t have to hire someone, you can simply keep a database of people you like and then see who’s looking to make a change when you’re ready to bring someone on.
Or, if you have the means like Google, you can hire anyone that you know will be a great asset whether you need to fill a position or not. Another way of looking at that is that superstars aren’t often out of work, so you should hire them when they’re at your door regardless of what positions you have open.
#4. Look for failure.
4.0 GPA from a good university. Internship at a prestigious firm with glowing reviews. Expensive shirt, firm handshake. Great candidate, right? Possibly, yes. Sounds someone who will get the job done well, on time, and with a smile on their face. Having some employees with this temperament is great. But these types of personalities are often not the superstars. The superstars aren’t afraid of failure, so they’ve probably failed once or twice already, if not more.
As it says in this article, failure is an integral part of innovating. Innovating inherently requires taking a risk. Instead of a track record of success, look for people who are driven with a strong sense of autonomy. To get those people at your door, you first need to create that purposeful culture mentioned earlier that encourages autonomy and drive. A few 4.0 GPA standouts can be a good complement to your teams, but it’s not the only place you should be looking.
#5. Don’t be scared of firing.
This post is about hiring, but hiring and firing go hand-in-hand. You don’t need to wait for someone to screw up before you let them go. If someone doesn’t fit in well, it’s best for everyone if they move on. One bad fit does not equal one person worth of ineffectiveness—one bad fit infiltrates an entire team. Not only can it cause frustration and delays, but it can demotivate your employees who trust you to put them in good company.
When you question whether you should let someone go, it’s probably already past due. You want teams filled with people it would pain you to lose, so don’t be scared to say goodbye to the ones you could do without.
I had a hard time keeping this list to five items, so I know you have more to add. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on the tenants I’ve listed or on your own good hiring practices that didn’t make my list.
This article was originally published on Linkedin Pulse.