Optimizing the hiring process requires you to focus on a few core issues. One of them is the quality of candidates: How do you find the right fit and how do you compete with other companies for them? Another is the interview process itself — this comes down to your success rate in analyzing the candidates. The closer you are to the mark, the less time you will have to spend on hiring down the line. Consistently making the wrong decisions when assessing candidate fit and quality can lead to many headaches and lost time.
Thus, having a firm grasp on a couple of things can help tremendously in improving your chances of hiring good candidates. Here are four strategies to help you optimize the hiring process.
1. Build a strong homefront and let talent come to you.
As a startup, it’s going to be difficult to compete with well-established companies that have the capital and resources available to hire top-quality candidates. Therefore, maintaining a strong online presence using tools like social media and a professionally made website is key.
Create a visual of what it’s like to work at your company — the more appealing this is, the more talent will want to apply. If you want to attract creatives, innovators and high-performing individuals, begin to market this type of culture on your platforms and in your job descriptions.
Identify what people desire. Is it more flexibility, freedom or career development? What types of competitive advantages can you offer? Make sure this is well advertised on the job posting. Compensation is usually one of the foremost factors for candidates, but there are other enticing non-monetary incentives that can be useful in attracting top talent.
You can review in-depth metrics on your website’s online presence. For instance, SEMrush’s brand monitoring tool allows you to keep track of your website’s SEO metrics and brand mentions, helping you protect your company’s integrity online.SEMrush also has powerful social media scheduling tools that can help you automate content posting.
When people search for your company online, make sure they see a professional and authoritative representation of your brand.
2. Attract the energy you seek.
If you desire a high-performing team, you must demonstrate these expectations right from the hiring stage. The qualities you exhibit will naturally attract those who think the same way or repel those who aren’t on the same wavelength. As someone who orchestrates the band, every movement that comes from you as the composer will be seen.
Make it clear what’s important to you. Communicate qualities like efficiency and time consciousness (e.g., response rate, showing up on time, quick problem-solving, etc.). When you’re assessing candidates, make your questions focused and meaningful, and observe how they respond. The best candidates demonstrate a fair amount of effort, as they’ll provide a thorough response focused on exactly what you’re looking for. Effort is critical; even if someone isn’t exceptional at what they do, if they’re willing to invest the effort in learning and become good, there is merit to that.
When it comes to interviews and assessments, have a mix of open-ended questions to see where their minds are at. Other times, use job-specific questions to test their skill level. The perfect candidate can quickly pick up on implicit communication cues and demonstrate an understanding of exactly what you’re looking for. It’s only through experience and meeting a range of candidates will you develop a sense of intuition around this.
3. Place careful landmines to weed out the bad apples.
To increase efficiency in the interview process, you need to place careful tripwires to weed out unqualified candidates from the get-go. For example, ask candidates to rate themselves from one to 10 on a skill set, such as proficiency in English (e.g., define 10 as a native English speaker with a college degree in literature). In almost all cases, people who are actually great at what they do will never claim that they’re in the nine to 10 range. Talent is always bundled with humility.
Avoid general “story” questions like, “What challenge did you overcome and what did you learn?” These questions revolve around the candidate’s ability to tell a narrative about their life, rather than give any indication of their actual problem-solving abilities. Instead, ask questions that might catch them a little off guard, like hypothetical scenarios or more ambiguous questions to test their reactions.
Another red flag to watch for is how closely the candidate adheres to the original instructions. Give clear instructions and if they fail to, for example, answer in the correct format (which is very simple); this is an indication of carelessness that you don’t want for technical positions that require intricacy.
4. Know that hiring a candidate is just the beginning.
Remember, you are meeting applicants on their best behavior. The question you are looking to solve is: How much would their behavior on our first encounter deviate once they know they’ve gotten the position?
The most challenging aspect of hiring is finding the deal breakers you can’t determine on paper or in an interview. You must fine-tune your sense and intuition until it’s razor sharp. Learn to deduce crucial points from tiny bits of aggregated details.
Questions such as: Does the employee react to stress personally and emotionally? Is the employee quick to burn out? Are they inconsistent and flaky? Are they currently desperate for funds, and once that problem is solved you are going to meet a completely different person?
Monitor their schedules and identify recurring excuses for fumbles. Create artificial stress simulations and see if they close up or drill through the issue.
It takes a fair amount of trial and error to develop a sharp intuition around hiring. Although human personalities and behavior appear unpredictable — even mystical at times — throughout the course of your career as an entrepreneur, you will begin to pick up useful behavioral and mindset cues that can better predict the type of candidate you’re dealing with.