Hiring and evaluating new team members is a challenge for most entrepreneurs – and often an even greater challenge for overcommitted entrepreneurs. We’re often in such a rush to make a decision and get someone – anyone – onboard that we neglect to use some of the best practices.
The focus today, when talking about jobs, is almost always on the jobs numbers and how hard it is to find a job. Left out of this conversation is how challenging it can be for employers to find the right person to hire amidst the deluge of applications. This can easily lead to overwhelm, which is even more stressful when you need to make a decision quickly.
So the question is, are you hiring (and vetting) properly so that you identify the person who is the best fit – the best fit for you, for your business, and for that person?
Most busy and overcommitted entrepreneurs either rush or pay too little attention to the hiring process because they need people quickly or have a hard time prioritizing. Sometimes it’s a simple as not taking the time to get clear on what they really need their new hire to do. This is sometimes called the “Warm Body Syndrome.”
Lately I’ve noticed that a number of my clients are having challenges with employees. In almost every case, the challenges stem from performance issues that could have been identified in the hiring process but weren’t.
Here is a perfect example from one of my clients. (Names have been changed, of course.)
Sam runs a restaurant and was having problems with his chef. When we talked, Sam had set up interviews with 12 candidates for the chef position.
Let’s face it, 12 interviews for a small business is a tremendous amount of time that can distract the owner from their normal responsibilities.
I asked Sam to cancel these (in-person) interviews and instead, set up a powerful phone screening process that would allow him to identify the top candidates in 5 minutes.
The Power of Questions
When you ask the right questions, you can streamline your effective hiring process by getting the critical information you need about a candidate and his/her experiences and qualifications.
Here are the questions we identified for Sam to ask, after I helped him get very clear about exactly what he needed this new hire to be able to do.
- Tell me about your experience of running a restaurant this size and turning it around.
- Tell me the problems you ran into doing that, and how you handled those problems.
- Tell me what you like about my restaurant and what you think you might want to change about it.
Sam spent 5 minutes on the phone with all 12 people. This saved him 11 hours he would have otherwise spent interviewing…assuming he was able to stick to his timeframe of 1-hour interviews. And out of all 12 candidates, there was only one person who had the experience to do what Sam needed.
That person, on paper, wasn’t Sam’s first choice. But by asking the RIGHT questions to get to the right information, it was obvious who was best for the job.
That’s not to say you don’t also conduct an in-person interview – you definitely do for this type of position. But by asking the right questions to get to the most relevant information, Sam was able to save himself a tremendous amount of time that he could, instead, use to focus on other parts of his business.
So, people aren’t really asking for exactly what they want. Either they are overwhelmed, or they are bootstrapping and can’t pay top dollar, so they think they can’t find the employees they want.
The truth is there are great people who have great qualifications…if you take the time to ask the right powerful questions.
What do you actually need this new person to do when they are successful in their role?
What question(s) can you ask that will evaluate whether they have this experience or not?
What do you really want to know about their experience in this area?
(Sam wanted to make sure the chef he was hiring would respect the reputation, the food, and the setting of his restaurant.)
If you do this exercise and are hesitant to ask these questions, you probably have the belief that either you aren’t worthy of investing in, or that deep down you don’t believe someone could actually do the work, or that what you are paying isn’t in line with your expectations.
Each of these 3 can be addressed if you’re willing to do the work. Good hires are easier to find than most people think. It’s also much easier, more cost effective, and far less stressful to hire the right person (by using these types of questions) than to manage, train or fire unqualified people.