May Contain Blueberries

the sometimes journal of Jeremy Beker

My good friend and former super amazing boss at The College of William and Mary, Susan Evans, has been writing a series of blog posts lately that I have really been enjoying. I’ve enjoyed them so much, they have spurred me to write today. Her entry from today, Hiring? Listen and spend an hour, is particularly relevant lately as I have been working to add 7-8 people to my teams in the last few months and I spent yesterday talking with candidates at the William and Mary Career Fair. Susan makes many wonderful points in her article and I highly recommend you read hers first; I’ll wait.

I can’t emphasis the importance of quality hiring enough; while hard when you feel the pressure to get a new employee RIGHT NOW to try to avoid whatever pain you may be feeling in your organization, hiring the wrong person is always far worse. You must remember that the interview process provides your only protection against getting a bad candidate in to an organization; even in the best of situations you only have a few hours to determine if this person is one you will count on for thousands and thousands of hours in the future. The cost of hiring the wrong fit is too high and no matter your company, getting rid of someone you have hired who is the wrong fit is far harder (emotionally and practically) than just not hiring them in the first place.

Trust your team

Never be the only person who contributes to the hiring decision. For any job I have, no matter how junior it is, I always have many people inside and outside my team do their own interviews with the candidate. This can range from 3 people beyond me to 5 or 6. My interview process is long and I get comments from candidates when I wrap up with them that it is more thorough than they have seen at other companies.

The hardest part is that everyone must agree that the candidate should be hired. If anyone has any doubts, the answer is no. It does not matter how much everyone else loves the candidate, everyone has veto power. This is critical to ensuring you only get a new employee that will succeed in your team. (And don’t overlook the ancillary benefit that it shows your current staff that you trust them with the responsibility to shape the team.)

Meet face to face

As hiring managers, everyone makes mistakes from time to time. What I have learned from my mistakes with hiring is that the people with whom I have been later unhappy with are the ones I hired based on the recommendations of others without meeting personally or that I only did a phone interview with. This was the trap of being “too busy” and not seeing hiring as the most critical part of my job. Even in situations where someone was being hired by one of my managers and won’t report to me directly, I now insist that I get time face to face with them. It is the only way to be sure.

The person is what matters

Here I just want to reiterate a point Susan makes in her closing: “the best hiring decisions are based on the type of person you hire and not the skills they have.” I can’t stress this enough. While a resume is important, the courses they have taken in college are important, in the end, none of that matters. I am hiring a person not a list of skills and that is what you must focus upon.