Saturday, July 21, 2012

My lessons on hiring

To grow company, you have to hire fast and hire right people.  You cannot look for the perfect candidate to come around to make an offer.  Yet you cannot hire someone who is not a right fit for the job and your company culture.  How can you strike the balance?  How can you hire right people fast while maintaining the culture?

List three qualities that you are looking for from a perfect match.  
Now drop one, and you'll find your candidates.

That was an advice that someone gave me about finding a perfect soul mate.  I think it equally applies to finding a perfect match for your job opening.  You will never get all the qualities that you'll look for.  In other words, you'll have to prioritize what is really important to you as hiring manager.

As hiring managers I look for three qualities from all applicants:

0. Personal integrity (trustworthiness)
1. Intelligence (problem solving skills)
2. Motivation
3. Relevant experience (past achievements)

(I know I've listed 4.  I consider the very first one as table stake.)

Out of these three, guess which one I am willing to go easy.  It's the experience.

I wouldn't think this is how Ikea screens its candidates.
I guess putting together Ikea chair can measure
some intelligence and motivation.

There is a big secret for all applicants.  Although resumes are scanned for keywords found in past experience, when it's time for face-to-face interview it's not about relevant experience.  I don't invite candidates to come in and impress me with their past experience.  I invite them to gauge their intelligence and motivation.  For all job seekers, this should be a big hint.  Write resumes to get the face-to-face interview.  Do everything that you can to impress them with your intelligence and motivation.

Here's why.

Out of all three (again I take integrity as starting point; without that no need to continue), relevant experience is the only quality that is easy to gain with time and effort.  As long as candidate is armed with intelligence and motivation, getting relevant experience will come with the time.  I don't believe the same can be said for intelligence and motivation.  Either you have it, or you don't.

Once I made a mistake of skimping on intelligence to get junior resource.  My hope was that he'll pick up things and be productive eventually.  That eventuality never came.

Don't compromise on intelligence and motivation.  If any, go easy on experiences.  And start early.  Also don't forget to act decisively when you have an intelligent and motivated candidate.

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