I love getting new hires. My friend at another company and myself just added new hires to our list. We’re both happy to have them, and it’s especially nice as they love doing the shit we hate doing. That’s the perfect situation when hiring a new person. Not only do they get work done, they also make you feel better about the work you’re getting done (or not having to do).
Not all new hiring goes so well. My friend’s new hire is his second attempt at filling the spot. The first didn’t go so well. The woman seemed great in the interviews, other colleagues liked her, and the President thought so too. This is the first time my friend has dealt with this kind of management decision, so it’s tough getting a sour apple on the first try. Still, others with decades of hiring experience couldn’t see any reason to choose another candidate over her.
The tough part coming out of this, though, is sticking with the “ideals of hiring.” Everyone says (you know “everyone”), “Hire personality – not necessarily talent,” but that’s tough thinking when you’ve had problems hiring such people. Who can worry about personality when they’re having trouble finding qualified candidate? Everyone says, “Hire slow, fire fast.” But people tend to hire for immediate needs and not for on going and predicted needs. And, what does slow or fast mean anyway?
Both of those are possibly the two most important ideals to keep in mind, which isn’t always that easy when thing aren’t going well. I’d also add, and this is one I don’t think most people would say when giving hiring advice, “Don’t just hire for yourself, hire for the benefit of the hiree.” What I mean is that it isn’t just a position that you’re trying to fill based on a set of skills. If they’re qualified and they accept an offer, then it’s not only their problem to like what you ask them to do. As other half of the equation, it’s just as important that you understand, at least at a basic level (not much more you can do until they’re on the job), what would make this new hire happy. This is the personality part of the ideals that most people don’t fully understand.
Finding the right personality is about finding someone who will enjoy the work they’re asked to do, and will gravitate toward the work they like and away from the work they don’t. They’re not just there for a paycheck, and it’s more than just doing work given to them. It’s about finding someone that will make everyone feel better by the work they do, maybe because they actually enjoy doing the work everyone else doesn’t like. Drive like that isn’t always easy to find, admittedly, but that’s why you hire slow and fire fast.
And of course, an easy way to start understanding this is to ask questions like, “What have you enjoyed doing in the past?” “Would this be interesting to you if you worked for us?” or “What of these possible tasks you could do for us would appeal to you most?” Granted, sometimes we have to do work we don’t exactly like, but it’s about supporting others and finding enjoyment through that support if some tasks are less enjoyable.
Finding a perfect fit isn’t always smooth sailing, people change, companies change, daily work requirements change, home life requirements change – impatience is abound. New hires might not know themselves, so they make it harder for you to understand them and know if they’ll like the work you’re offering. And hirer’s don’t always (usually in my experience) know what work they actually want or need to be done until they’ve got someone in front of a computer needing to do something (or what they’ll do after the first couple months).
Frankly, when hiring for the future, which is usually what you’re doing unless you’re hiring for a three month contract, then you need to hire creative adapters. You don’t know the future, they don’t know the future, but you both need to be able to work together as things change, and you both need to be creative in how to adapt to those changes. Hiring someone for immediate needs who doesn’t work out over time is more likely to gunk up the works and make you more impatient when looking for that right person. And remember, if you can, the absolute joy of finding someone that fits in better than expected, which means that more than just you are happy with the addition to the team.