One of the biggest downfalls I see in leaders is they don’t have great interviewing skills. For you to be successful, you must become an expert at interviewing. What we have to realize is that the work is not done by the leader; the work is done by the team. Therefore, if we hire the best team, we get the best results.
Tips for Hiring Smarter
Here are six tips for ensuring that you hire the best:
Make it your goal to find the best.
I see leaders in many industries settle for a candidate who seems okay but is not the best of the best. If you do that, you’ll pay for it later. Be the tortoise, not the hare. Take your time, be patient, and make sure that you’re hiring the cream of the crop.
Always be looking for new talent.
When you attend industry conferences and meetings and as you network, stay on the lookout for new talent. Sometimes when we least expect it, we come across the talent we will someday want to be on the team. Talk to them and get to know them professionally. Perhaps even ask them to send you a resume, and put it in your file of future talent. Keep in touch with this talent on a regular basis, and when you are ready to make a move, you now have a very strong “best of the best” candidate.
Become an interviewing artist.
Really strive to become a master interviewer. This is a skill and a science. Identify people in your organization who are known for being great interviewers. Ask them if you could sit in on one of their interviews. Be the proverbial “fly on the wall” and observe their techniques and approaches. I learned all of my best interviewing skills from a gentleman named Filemon, an executive to whom I once reported. He taught me the subtleties of effective interviewing approaches and techniques. If internal training on effective interviewing is available, take advantage of it. Secondly, read and study books and online courses on effective interviewing—you will find that you will learn a lot.
Have multiple interviews with multiple people.
In my experience, I have found that interviews that incorporate multiple people and that require the candidate to come back for several interviews are much more effective. Why does this work so well? The reason that this is so effective is that each time the candidate comes back for an interview, he or she becomes more relaxed and comfortable. This allows you, as the leader, to get beyond the techniques that they’ve learned in their interviewing books and classes and get to the real person. Additionally, if multiple people are interviewing the candidate, there may be areas identified by one person that were not identified by another. The reason for this is simple: some people have chemistry with one interviewer and not another. I once had a very strong candidate whom I interviewed two times and was practically ready to make them a job offer. That is when it got very interesting! I took the candidate to lunch for a third interview, and over lunch she revealed some ethical problems that she had in her last job (plagiarism), which clearly told me that she was not appropriate for our team. I believe that this would not have been revealed if we had only done two interviews and if she had not been interviewed by multiple people. By the way, you’ll notice the classic technique mentioned above—the all-important, infamous “meal” technique (which, by the way, works like a charm). If you want to find out more about the real person, get them to dine with you. The candidate will disappear, and a real person will emerge.
Look for internal hidden assets.
I often find that in corporations and organizations, there is hidden talent just waiting to be discovered. I was once a vice president of training and development for a large company. I received a resume from an internal candidate who wanted to fill the position of trainer. I called the human resources department and asked them why they sent me her resume. They explained that even though this candidate worked in the accounts payable department, she had indeed developed and designed a significant amount of training on her own to train accounts payable people around the country. “Besides,” the HR person said, “you have to interview her—she has passion!” Of course, we interviewed her, and after several interviews and a live training audition, she was hired as a trainer. So we discovered a talented trainer who was buried in another department in the organization who was truly a hidden asset.
Hire for diversity.
Great leaders hiring people are always are looking for diversity. Yes, I know it’s the right thing to do, and it adds greatly to the company’s PR reputation. The fact that leaders are sensitive to and addressing diversity issues in terms of hiring has great value. But I think there’s a more important reason—the real reason—why you should hire for diversity. You should hire for diversity in order to get people who think differently. My definition of hiring for diversity means that you get people on your team who are completely different than you. You get diversity in race, creed, color, ability, religion, geography, lifestyle, age, culture, etc. The advantage of having this kind of diversity on your team is that each person brings a unique perspective to both the projects and the work. That way, you get a much broader range of opinions. So, hire people who are completely different than you—in fact, the opposite of your own image. Hire people radically different than you.
Those are the key strategies for interviewing. Print this out and tape it to your desk. It will pay off when you are looking for your next “superstar.”