As business owners, executives, and HR managers, we’ve all been there: a new employee who seemed so promising just doesn’t work out. The person may have the relevant work experience but doesn’t seem to understand how to prioritize her responsibilities. Or perhaps the person is an all-star at the job, but isn’t getting along with other employees. Maybe you can’t even tell if the person would be good at the job because he spends the whole day texting in his office.
I’ve done a lot of hiring over the years – what started as a firm of two lawyers less than 10 years ago has grown to 30 lawyers and over a dozen staff members. During that time, I’ve tried many approaches to the hiring process. Here, I share hiring tips and the best practices I follow when we add someone to our team, no matter what the position.
- Define the job before filling it. If your idea of a good time is wading through resumes from anyone with an Internet connection, I recommend posting an ad saying “experienced paralegal wanted.” If you’d prefer to efficiently find the right person for the job, it’s crucial to spend some time beforehand writing out the specifics of the position. Will the paralegal be filing motions electronically? Conducting legal research? Reviewing client documents? Say so in the ad. Not only will the candidate have the information needed to evaluate the position, but you’ll be introducing the candidate to your company and your needs from the outset. This doesn’t mean that a position can’t evolve over time, but the more information a candidate has when applying, the better.
- Introduce strong candidates to key staff members. Hiring decisions shouldn’t be made in a vacuum. Giving candidates time with employees other than the owner or hiring manager gives them the opportunity to more freely ask questions about the job and assess the company culture for themselves. For me, it’s also helpful to have my staff’s perspective, especially if they will be working closely with the successful candidate.
- Establish and share a timeline for the hiring process. Since applying for my first job at McDonald’s, I’ve submitted countless resumes and have gone on more interviews than I can count. While rejection always stung, I harbored no negative feelings about those companies that treated me with respect. Telling candidates when to expect a decision (and notifying them if they did not get the job) is courteous and will help build your company’s good reputation.
- Look for the candidate who wants this job, not any job. It’s usually obvious when a candidate is excited about the position you’re hiring for (and see #1 above – give candidates specifics to get enthusiastic about). More often than not, that enthusiasm translates into a happy, engaged, and productive employee.
- Always be on the lookout. Don’t automatically dismiss someone who wows you just because you aren’t currently hiring. Some of our best people have come to us at a time when we had no open positions. Perhaps there’s a creative way to bring the person on board in a part-time or per-project basis. If not, stay in contact and keep them in mind as you look to add to your team in the future.