The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you avoid hiring the wrong people?” is written by Tom Barnes, managing partner at Calibre One.
It’s no secret that talent is one of the most important factors in driving the success or failure of a business. The stakes and potential negative impacts become even higher when you’re looking for executive leadership—that’s why so much effort and research is put into the “science of hiring.” However, finding a truly great employee with the right mix of experience and personality requires a more balanced approach—one that combines a fact-based, analytical process with basic intuition.
The following outlines some ways to gain a more holistic view of a candidate’s qualifications and potential fit:
Keep a clear focus on the outcome
First of all, it’s important to begin the process by defining “success.” Create a very clear picture of what you’re looking to achieve with this hire. Define what skills and qualities you’re looking for. What are the top three to five measurable objectives that you want this person to accomplish in the first year? Then, make sure to use these as a barometer to drive the interview process. Does the candidate have specific experience that he or she can immediately use to accomplish your objectives? Stay focused on gathering this evidence during the interview, and make sure you get specific examples.
It’s also important to look beyond the candidate’s professional experience for originality or exceptionality. These traits can be from any walk of life because they can easily be transferred to the workplace.
Don’t just take the candidates’ word for it. Be prepared to take the time to fact-check. Hiring the wrong person, especially in a leadership role, can do more damage than leaving the slot empty until a great leader is found. Look beyond the candidates’ own references. Use social and other networks to find external corroboration within their previous companies to substantiate their assertions. Did they truly “drive” the success, or did they play a more passive role within a team? Make sure to stay attuned to subtle clues on work ethic, leadership skills, or cultural match.
Once the more analytical part of the process is complete, be completely honest with yourself. Don’t hush that inner voice. Use your intuitive skills to see if there is that something-doesn’t-feel-quite-right feeling. Were there any red flags that came up during the interview process? More importantly, ask yourself if you truly believe the candidate is the right person for the job. Just be careful not to draw absolute conclusions without considering the other data.
Remember that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth
Finally, keep a clear focus on who exactly gets to vote on candidates and who does not. Keep the hiring committee small and let everyone on the committee have a veto vote. Any other team members who get to meet them, but do not have a vote, should know that their purpose in the process is to give the candidate a good feeling and to offer their input, if asked. Too many voices deciding on who gets a role tends to obscure the focus and can lead to a “vanilla” candidate being hired.
When it comes to evaluating candidates during the hiring process, there are objective and subjective measures at play. The key to a great hire is a sound blend of both.
Tom Barnes is one of the two founding partners of Calibre One and is based at the North American Headquarters in San Francisco. With 18 years of experience in recruiting at the senior level, Tom has devoted his time to the acquisition of senior human capital for various technology industries and has focused exclusively on board positions, CEOs and their direct reports.