hiring the right people

Hiring the right people – first time and every time

At Enternships’ Hiring Masterclass last week, Anthony Sutton, founder and MD of Cream HR, gave an advice-packed talk about hiring the right people, based on years of experience as a successful recruiter. This guest blog is just a tiny snippet of his vast knowledge.


How can you make sure you’re hiring the right people?


Our approach at Cream HR is based on the assertion that “people are the most important part of any business.” On this basis, why don’t businesses treat their investment in people (recruitment) in the same way that they would any other investment?

Businesses spend a huge amount of time and money on recruitment, so why do many of them get recruitment so horribly wrong and so few get it right?

My experience has enabled me to apply a variety of different approaches to hiring the right people, sometimes adapting them to suit the situation. At Cream HR, we use this versatility to help our customers understand the importance of effective recruitment and to learn how some simple rules can ensure they hire amazing people.

The Law of Crappy People

When I worked with serial IT Entrepreneur, Marc Andresen, he told me about an incredibly successful rule he uses, “The Law of Crappy People”, to ensure that recruitment standards never slip. The success of Marc Andresen’s businesses is testimony to the importance of getting recruitment right every time and to always maintaining the highest standards in recruitment.

The Law is very simple: don’t hire anyone that isn’t the very best. Even if it means you don’t anyone at all.

When you start a business the people you start with are grade A employees. To keep the business at grade A you have to keep hiring grade A people for every role, however apparently insignificant that role may be. The moment you hire a grade B person, the level of the business drops to grade B. As the business expands and if the grade B person survives the heat of working in a grade A environment, the moment they get hiring responsibility – guess what? – they hire a grade B or C person to make themselves feel more comfortable.

This pattern can then continue on and on until the quality of the business is hugely reduced. It is far better for your business to hang on until you find the right employee, than damaging the standing of the whole business with a bad hiring decision.

Look for Measurable Outcomes

Your job description/requirement should be based on measurable outcomes, in the same way that you would look at measuring potential returns on investment elsewhere in your business.

This approach will influence the entire recruitment process, from the information published on web sites or job boards, to the briefing of recruitment agencies and head-hunters. Using clear objectives and measurable targets or outcomes, the entire recruitment process can seek the evidence that the candidates you are reviewing possess exactly the type of experience that you need.

Look for Brilliance Early

By thoroughly weeding out unsuccessful candidates as early as you can through C.V. and application form reviews and the use of structured telephone interviews you should identify the candidates for interview only if they meet the minimum required standards for the role.

Using such an approach frees up more time for face-to-face interviews, which again should follow a structured format, where you constantly seek examples of the candidate’s experience to back up their claims regarding their achievements.

It’s important not to simply accept answers at face value and you should dig for supporting information throughout the interviewing process. Using such a format ensures consistency, and interviewing in tandem with a colleague, using a similar approach, you can assess the consistency of the candidate’s answers.

I also encourage the use of assessments and setting of specific challenges throughout the process. These can vary in their nature and should be specific to each role and have clear objectives against which the candidates will be scored.

Sell the Job to Your Ideal Candidate

Having undertaken a thorough selection, assessment and interview process, based upon finding evidence to support claimed experiences, you should be sure to sell the job opportunity to the selected candidates. I implore you to tell the truth about the opportunity. By putting candidates through a robust and thorough recruitment process, the best quality candidates will generally respond favourably to the challenges presented – don’t undersell the role for fear of putting people off.

Whatever you do, adopt a thorough and structured approach, tailored to individual business needs, to hiring the right people, first time – every time.

For a free consultation with Cream HR, combining expert employment law advice with pragmatic, commercial HR, please contact Anthony.


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Will Bentinck

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

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