Hiring should be taken pretty seriously. Depending on the seniority of the role, you can spend months of searching, sifting through hundreds of CVs, and conducting dozens of interviews before you even begin to narrow it down to a shortlist of potential candidates.
As a hiring manager, you innately have a strong desire to make sure that the candidate you choose to fill the position will be the right person for the job. From both a skill set match to alignment with your business values and company culture. Hiring the wrong person for an important role can not only be a major inconvenience but also a huge waste of time, money, and other resources. Leave that wrong person in the role for too long and they could end up creating problems for your business.
These risks are particularly dangerous for new or smaller businesses, where initial hires are often integral in setting the tone for the company culture going forward. How can you tell the fake candidates apart from the genuine? How do you know if the candidate you end up choosing is actually the right person to hire?
There are plenty of things to consider when you are trying to ensure a candidate is the right person to hire, and luckily for you – we’ve written them down for you. Here are our top tips on ensuring a candidate is the right person to hire for your business.
Understand the candidate’s aspiration
When you (or your recruitment team) create the job description for the new role you’re hoping to fill, don’t just think about the then and now. Pay attention to how you see the position growing within the next few years. How does your ideal candidate fit into your growth plan for your business, not just the current job opening? This might mean looking for people with a wider skill set – or someone with a diverse or interesting background that could bring a fresh perspective to how your business is working.
With job progression in mind, you now want to get a sense of the career goals of each potential candidate. This should be a key part of your interview process to help you see what a candidate thinks of the available job and if they could be a good fit for how you see the job growing in the future.
Get a clear sense of:
a) how you foresee the ideal candidate growing in the role that you’re hiring for
b) an understanding of the career goals of your potential candidate
Getting a sense of both aspects will help you determine whether or not there is alignment between your candidate and the company’s goals.
Pay attention to the questions candidates ask you
It’s common knowledge that any good candidate should ask thoughtful questions throughout the interview process. This shows preparedness and engagement on the part of the candidate. An interview should be considered less as a question/answer session – and more as a dialogue between you and someone who can help your business grow.
The best hires and top talent care about the team they’ll be on, who will be managing them, and how they can help take the company forward. Make a mental note of the questions a candidate asks throughout the interview/recruitment process. If they are only questions such as: ‘What are the working hours’ ‘When do we get paid’ ‘How much holiday do we get’ They may be more interested in getting their paycheck every month than the actual business itself.
Obviously, these are questions people need answered at some point in the process, but also look for candidates who ask questions like: ‘Where do you see the business in 5 years’ ‘What’s been the most successful (or unsuccessful) projects the business has set up’ ‘Why are you hiring for this role?’ These types of questions show that they really want to get a better understanding of the business and how they can help in their new role.
Ask them what they’re not good at
You know that the right hire won’t be great at everything – it’s not humanly possible. So, a great way to ensure that someone is the right person to hire is to ask them what they know they’re not good at. Their answer will help you understand their professional expectations for themselves and whether your assessment of them matches with their own.
This question encourages prospective employees to articulate areas where they lack certain tangible skills. It will help you gain a good insight into whether or not prospective candidates are working to improve – giving you insight into candidates work ethic and personal goals if you can see they are actively trying to improve themselves.
PSA: We wrote a great article on more interview questions to help reveal a toxic employee. You can thank us later.
Do you trust your instincts? Or trust your logic?
They say you should always trust your gut. What is your first reaction to a candidate? While you might be tempted to rely purely on logic, it’s important to go with a candidate who you feel, on an instinctive level, will be a good fit. No matter how many personality assessments they take, how many interviews they conduct, or what questions you ask, the common denominator has always been simple: when you trust your gut on hiring decisions you make the best choices. Dismissing or ignoring your instincts throughout the hiring process can ultimately do more harm than good.
However, to play devil’s advocate, what if your gut is wrong. Tom Sorenson once quoted, “Using your gut is similar to scratching the surface. You only discover the superficial aspects of the candidate”. There have been copious amounts of research that show hiring managers biggest flaw is hiring people they liked in the interview process. Hiring people just because they made a great first impression rather than evaluating their skill set or background. When hiring the perfect candidate, make sure you take all these factors into consideration to make sure you put the right person in place for the job.
Cultural fit vs. cultural add?
There’s a huge difference between hiring someone because they are a good cultural fit vs. hiring someone who would be a cultural add.
Cultural fit, means the candidate fits perfectly within the existing boundaries of the business. The individual’s attitudes, values and beliefs are all in line with the core values and culture of the business as they currently stand.
Cultural add, is when you select a candidate based on what they can add to the business. Whether that’s because of their background, experiences or if they connect to multiple plans that will help your business expand.
In a recent webinar on Employer Branding with our very own chief people officer, Alex Hattingh, and UBER recruitment guru Katie Noakes – they both agreed that they lean more towards hiring for cultural add. In the webinar, Katie said that she personally ‘hates culture fit as a term’ and will always look for ‘candidates that offer a culture add’. The right person for the role should bring something new to your business whilst still complimenting what you already have. They should help you get one step closer to your aspirational company culture.
There are other reasons why many recruiters and hiring managers are moving more towards culture add:
- You should focus on a candidate passion. But hiring for cultural fit may mean you are prioritising passion over experience which is a big issue for long term business success. You will end up with an entire team of inexperienced employees with a lot of ambition that will increase inefficiencies across the board.
- Cultural fit lends itself towards whether a candidate is a good social fit. The old school ‘Beer Test’ is the first thing that comes to mind. You are hiring to produce results for your business – not to socialise. Although you want to bring people into the team who are good characters, this shouldn’t be the only reason you hire them.
- Constantly hiring candidates that are all a great cultural fit can lead to homogeneity: this is defined as the quality or state of being all the same or all of the same kind. This means that new ideas are limited if everyone has the same or similar ways of thinking. New ideas are now not available to your business that could lead to your growth because your culture’s homogeneity stifles ideas that challenge any new ways of thinking.
- Not hiring someone because they’re a bad ‘culture fit’ does not give that candidate good constructive feedback. You want to make sure that the 99% of candidates who you turn down, walk away from the experience in a positive way even though they didn’t get the role. This way they will stay on board as either customers or brand advocates and will be more likely to apply again in 6 months time when they’ve had time to work on the feedback given.
Cultural add, on the other hand, solves these issues by focusing on what a person can add to a team or business that’s unique and different. You need passionate people, and also candidates with different experiences to guide you in the right direction.
Business’ need technical capabilities, business acumen, relationship management or perhaps cultural awareness in order to expand their business. These are all experiences that don’t necessarily come within just one hire. By hiring a mixture of different candidates with those different experiences, everyone learns more from one another. There you have it. Simple ways to ensure that your top candidate is the right person for you to hire.