Find the Right Fit: Hiring Tips from Proven Leaders

Whether you’ve hired one person or a thousand, you can likely agree with the experts that there’s no one easy solution or right thing to do. Of course, having a tried-and-true hiring process helps, but it’s always tricky to find just the right candidate who will fit your company culture and be able to perform what the job requires.

I ran across a series of articles on the topic, “How I Hire,” written by proven leaders of successful companies. They each had something unique to share about how they find the right fit. Here are three perspectives and suggestions on hiring that you may never have considered:

1. Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of Translation, advocates the importance of hiring the kind of person who specifically understands your company culture and the leadership’s vision. Finding the right fit makes the difference between winning and losing.

“Throughout the interview process, in addition to evaluating a candidate’s credentials, I’m constantly discerning his or her energy, enthusiasm and overall approach. I aim to conduct interviews where we don’t necessarily speak only about the job. One example of how I expand the conversation—I’ll ask a person what their parents do for a living. The careers of their parents may not have a direct reflection at all on their job in particular, but their response can provide valuable insight. Or, I’ll take the prospective employee to a restaurant, see how they talk to the waiter, get a sense of their patience level and how they carry themselves. Usually people come to an interview and their entire preparation is to Google the CEO, note all of the words that he or she says and, in the interview, find new ways to regurgitate those buzzwords. But if you take someone out of his or her comfort zone you get a chance to see what really makes them tick.”

Translation only hires people whose outside interests can be utilized as tools within their role at the company. To find the right fit, Stoute asks candidates what they do in their spare time. He uses these conversations to determine whether the candidate is excited about the money or the company’s values and goals. Those who are enthusiastic about the same values as the company’s will be more effective members of the team.

2. Avid basketball fan and previous head of Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney, Sallie Krawcheck takes a unique approach to hiring. Rather than looking for the best person for the job, she says she approaches hiring from a team perspective. Just as it would be unwise to assemble a basketball team of all point guards, Krawcheck has learned to look for greater diversity of thought, perspective, and background.

“This means that I look for people who make me somewhat uncomfortable. I look for people who are different from me, who hold different views than I do, who have different areas of expertise than I do. I look for people from whom I learn in the interview. I look for people with qualities and backgrounds that are additive to – rather than the same as – the rest of the team. Hiring in this way may make the workplace less “comfortable” for the team, but that is exactly the point.”

3. Jack and Suzy Welch have a short but important checklist they use when hiring. It includes two must-haves: high integrity and high IQ. It also contains five should-haves: energy, ability to energize others, edge, execution, and passion, which you can read more about here. But the one that is most intriguing is what they call the generosity gene. To the Welches, the generosity gene is a game-changer. They describe it as “an in-the-bones, personality-deep craving – to help other people improve, grow, thrive, and succeed…. Generosity gene managers inspire trust, and in doing so they unleash productivity and creativity. Their people become fonts of ideas and innovation and paragons of commitment to customers and the work.”

Do you want amazing things to happen in your organization? First, you must define your company’s values and culture. It’s hard to find the right fit when you don’t understand your own organization’s personality. Then you need to establish a well-structured, consistent hiring process to consistently source, screen, and filter your candidates. (We’ll be happy to help with this.) Finally, add the advice of these savvy business leaders, choose a hiring tip that you haven’t tried before, and watch it make a positive difference in your next hire!

By Marcianne Kuethen

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