“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” -Lawrence Bossidy, General Electric Click to tweet
For the last 10 years, our country’s unemployment rate has steadily decreased which subsequently favored job candidates. Call it an “employee market.” As a result, many organizations changed their hiring processes and even, in certain situations, lowered their standards because of their hiring needs.
However, all that has changed. With fewer job openings and an exponential increase in unemployment, the process now favors the company. Call it an “employer market.”
With more applications and fewer job openings, it’s imperative for organizational leaders and hiring managers to have a hiring process that filters out those candidates who are not a fit for your company culture and allows the truly qualified applicants to rise to the top.
I understand the importance of hiring. In 2015, I was on the founding team of Typhoon Texas Waterpark and my first project was to design a hiring process that could accommodate 5,000 applications and effectively hire 900 seasonal employees in a span of 4 months. It was a challenging and very eye-opening project. Through that process, my team and I learned when it comes to hiring effectively, every organization must follow the “4 C’s.”
Character can be defined as doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Employees with high character are dependable and trustworthy. And character has become even more important with companies having to work remotely. An employee with high character can be expected to work hard even when no one is looking.
Here’s the problem, it’s hard to measure character in a traditional interview. Here are three ways to assess character during the hiring process:
- My good friend Jessica Coleman is an organizational development culture expert and she advises companies to use the application in general to evaluate character. Ask yourself, “Did they answer all the questions in the application? Did they get the application back to you in a timely manner?”
- She also says that in the interview you can ask a question such as, “Tell me about a time when you had to stand up for someone else?” This gives the applicant an opportunity to talk about their character (or the lack thereof.)
- Finally, use the audition model. Many industries such as sports and theater require candidates to audition for roles. You can design part of your hiring process to allow applicants to demonstrate their character. At Typhoon Texas, in our interview invite email we asked candidates to bring a highlighter with them to the interview. This was a simple test or exercise to see if they were thorough in reading the email which reveals an aspect of character. Have fun and get creative with your “auditions.”
“Culture” is a buzzword today. It basically means “values in action.” I’ve been on many hiring teams where someone would say that an applicant “isn’t a culture fit.” The problem is that they couldn’t explain it any further. Effective organizations clearly define their values and make them as objective as possible. You have to know what makes a great employee before you can hire one.
And remember, culture is king. Effective organizations don’t compromise on culture. As the saying goes, “hire for attitude, train for skills.” You can’t train culture or attitude. Either someone has it or they don’t. So design your application and interview processes to allow employees to demonstrate if they are a culture fit.
I define competency as “knowledge + skills.” This is their aptitude. Ideally, the goal is not just to hire for attitude, but also aptitude. How do you measure someone’s competency? I’m going to go back to the audition model. Take time to list the ideal skills that a great candidate should have for this role. Once you know those specific skills, think about how someone could demonstrate those skills on the application or in the interview process. For example, if it is coding, have your top candidates work on a coding project and pay them a little for it. This allows you to see their skills in action.
Also, many organizations are realizing that with the ever-changing technological landscape, the most effective competency piece that an employee can possess is the ability to learn.
Chemistry is how a person interacts and gets along with others. I have seen too many organizations keep horrible managers around because they had high competency, but everyone else literally couldn’t stand to be around them. Don’t get me wrong, leadership is not a popularity contest and if a leader is leading effectively some people won’t like it. But effective leaders don’t have to be jerks. Some of the best leaders around are self-aware, have compassion, practice active listening, and as a result earn trust. Those are the ingredients for high chemistry.
How do you evaluate chemistry? Have them interact with others in your organization both in 1:1 and group situations.
Let multiple employees in your organization have 1:1 mini-interviews with your candidates. Also, grab lunch or coffee with the candidate and invite other team members to join you. Or, in light of social-distancing, have a virtual happy hour that the candidate attends.
Just remember we are not necessarily looking for high extroverts. Chemistry or a high EQ doesn’t depend on extrovert vs. introvert, it depends upon maturity which comes from self-awareness.
Remember, high character, high culture, and high chemistry should be non-negotiables; competency can be slightly compromised.
For all of my positional leaders and hiring managers, review your hiring process and compare it with the “4 C’s.” Which area are you not evaluating effectively? What changes do you need to make?