If there's one fact about recruiting and hiring, it's that you either love it or hate it. For some business owners, there is no more pleasurable moment than the one where you are able to offer someone a job. For others, though, it is a soul sucking all-consuming experience that takes your attention and time away from every other aspect of your business. Whether you're a lover or hater, though, if your business is growing, you'll need to bring new people into the team.
In one of my previous roles before starting my own company, I was responsible for hiring dozens of new team members almost every week. It was a booming time in the technology world, and my employer was winning more contracts than it could manage. I was under pressure to find great hires fast, and not screw up and hire someone we would struggle to get rid of in a few months.
As a result, I was forced to figure out what worked and what didn't. Since that time, I have attended countless educational sessions, read dozens of books and spent hours continuing to get better at recruiting and hiring. What I have realized is that it isn't just about the interview—it's about creating a real hunger and desire among the people you eventually do interview. There's nothing worse than being forced to interview three hastily picked, forgettable candidates for a job and being told you must hire one of them.
Preparation is everything, not just for candidates trying to get a job, but for the team trying to hire them. So how can you optimize your recruiting process from top to bottom? These five tips should help.
1. Create a legendary culture. Google is famous for its flex day working schedule. Zappos has a completely empowered corporate culture. When it comes to desirable places to work, companies that stand for something distinctive top the list. We often hear about focusing on differentiation for promoting products and services, but the same principle works for recruiting. The more potential employees know about your culture before they walk through the doors for an interview, the more excited they will be at the chance of getting a job.
2. Inspire employee evangelists. The sad fact of the Internet is that it's much easier to vent about something negative than to share a positive experience. And disgruntled employees can be the worst "venters." The real problem, though, is that few companies provide the right inspiration or incentives for employees to share their own personal stories. One of the best ideas I've seen recently is brands encouraging their summer interns to create content to document their experience. Assuming it's a positive one, that content is immediately impactful information to share with your next batch of potential interns the following year to give them a real sense of what working with you might be like.
3. Ask the ultimate interview question. Almost every professional recruiter agrees that there is indeed a magical question you can ask in an interview. It's a question that tells you volumes about a candidate—and it centers around asking them what they know about your company, and why they want to work there. It's amazing how many candidates have not done any preparation and won't have a good answer to that question. Guess who gets eliminated right away? Asking candidates to sell you on how much they know about you is the ultimate way to find people who have the right attention to detail.
4. Give them homework. The traditional model for a job interview involves a list of questions, and then some closed-door evaluations of whom to hire. Does that really give you enough information? If not, you may want to consider giving your candidates a small bit of homework. That might be as simple as asking them to give you a followup call on a specific day, or actually giving them a practice task to do. Either choice can help you better evaluate their attention to detail and ability to follow through.
5. Call references on Friday afternoon. The final trick, I have heard a few times, is to call the references that a potential job candidate leaves for you on a Friday afternoon. The likelihood is, they won't answer the phone and you'll have to leave a message. Then you can wait for a call back, if it comes. Great references will always bend over backward to give a call back for a candidate they really want to help. If they don't, it may be a red flag to dig a bit deeper.
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Rohit Bhargava is founder of the Influential Marketing Group and the bestselling author of four marketing and career success books. He has hired more than 50 people during his career as a marketing executive, teaches marketing at Georgetown University and looks forward to the day when he can hire even more people.