The art of hiring

February 4, 2008

A lot has been written about the science of hiring: finding candidates through referrals, having multiple interviewers, getting references from potential recruits’ bosses, etc. In fact, I would recommend you all sign up for the free tips from Smarttopgrading (www.smarttopgrading.com) and read Jack Welsh’s many articles on the topic.

However, there is another side to the equation an intangible “X Factor” that can change everything. It is that indeterminable “je ne sais quoi” that is making me more open minded. One of the candidates we recently interviewed was loved by everyone, came extremely highly recommended and presented extremely well, but I could not help feeling that he was too bureaucratic and therefore would not fit well in the organization and would slow us down. In light of all the positive reactions everyone had, I decided to give it a try. I have been very pleasantly surprised. He brought processes and organization without slowing us down.

More often, the opposite happens, a candidate meets all of the criteria and “feels” right but once in the company, it just does not work. There might a cultural difference or even just a personality conflict with someone else that cannot be resolved and brings the productivity of the entire team down. When that happens, you must move decisively in realizing it does not work and letting the person go.

In both cases, my conclusion is now the same: if the candidate seems great give it a shot. If it works great! If not, end it sooner rather than later.

In many ways, this is similar to my approach to entrepreneurship: 9 rigorous business selection criteria to choose the business. Once in the business try lots of things through trial and error and back it up with decisive action to take advantage of opportunities or correct mistakes (of which there will be many given the approach).

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