How to hire the perfect candidate for your company

Enternships hot-shot and hiring expert Will Bentinck is delivering a FREE hiring workshop (with food and drink provided, no less) on the 18th November, in association with London Fusion. We decided to get a couple of tips from him in preparation.  


 

Finding really incredible people is rare. Recruiting is tough enough without looking for Perfect. But believe it or not, you can tweak your processes here and there to optimise for Perfect – to attract the perfect candidate, to select the perfect talent and to develop the perfect employee.

So what attributes really make the ‘perfect’ candidate, regardless of your company or industry?

 

The right skills

Being able to do the job. That’s pretty important, especially if you’re a small business with limited capacity to train people. However, unless we’re talking about specific technical skills, like programming or high-level statistics, it’s much much easier to learn new skills these days – so hire people who show evidence of the capacity to learn new things quickly.

It’s not difficult to see that the most important skill to have for today’s workplace is the ability to quickly become proficient, if not expert, in a new field. So always bear that in mind.

The right characteristics

Where a skill is the ability to do something, and having the right skills is very important, a person’s characteristics are much more generalised.

A characteristic could be defined as something that is true about the person (skills obviously being characteristics too). So, ‘being familiar with the tech startup scene’ or ‘having experience of founding an organisation’ might be characteristics a tech startup might look for.

A mild caution: if you’re looking at someone’s characteristics in order to make a judgement about them (e.g. ‘went to a good school’) then be careful you’re not being discriminatory. The characteristics you should be focusing on are factual ones that tell you something concrete; not things you need to make inferences about.

Ideal culture fit

Skills and characteristics are reasonably easy to establish or measure. Culture fit is more difficult. There are innumerable tools to try to measure culture fit, all of which are either ineffective or very expensive; or, more usually, both. There are some hacks you can use though.

First, you need to work out what your team’s values are. ‘Values’ is a hugely debated word; here I mean it simply as the things your team will not be deviated from. If one of your team’s values is honesty, then none of your team thinks it is acceptable to lie. It’s not difficult to quickly work out what a small group of people agrees are their Unbreakable Rules. (It does get more difficult the bigger the team gets, so do it early.)

Now, whenever you’re hiring a new person, use all your smarts to work out whether they share your values. If they don’t, don’t hire them. Simple.

Loyalty and self-motivation

It will get tough. It will probably get tougher than any of you had imagined. Will this candidate or employee stick around when it’s tough? Will they step up and grind on, regardless of how rubbish it is? Or will they fade, will their contributions dry up and their enthusiasm dissipate?

Most people will fade. Almost everyone will, it’s really difficult not to. Keep a sharp eye out for the people that won’t – the people who are loyal to you, your company, your vision and themselves.

Brand evangelist

I once hired someone who was so enthusiastic about our mission during interview and in the office, but who mumbled incoherence about what we did whenever they were on the phone or at an event. You need every one of your people to be shouting to the world about how your thing is the best thing the multiverse has ever witnessed.

How can you expect other people to believe it, if your team aren’t the most vocal proponents of that idea?

Willing to contribute

From day one, I want you to feel comfortable telling me I’m wrong and want you to be right when you do. I want your ideas in the mix, I want your brilliance (why else have I hired you?) to be contributing to the growth of my company and I want you to feel comfortable doing it and driven to do contribute. Everything about us working together should be pointing towards improvement.

 

Interested in the psychology of the perfect hire, and want to give your business the chance to get £10,000? I’ll be going into far more detail about this topic and more at the How To Hire free talk on the 18th November. It would be wonderful to talk to you there.

 

By Will Bentinck

Key Account Manager at Enternships

Follow him at @isoworg 

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Will Bentinck

Will likes bears. And startups. He has a beard, which explains a lot.

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