Hire Right The First Time

by | Apr 7, 2022

In the last 11 years, we’ve hired more than 100 amazing team members here at Newsletter Pro. In that time, we’ve learned valuable lessons about what works for us when we hire — and what doesn’t. 

It’s nothing short of a minefield to hire right now in the middle of the Great Resignation. So, I’m here to share 2 big hiring wins and 2 lessons we learned the hard way. Hopefully, you can close this tab with a few ideas to help you grow this critical skill for your business.

Big Win: Interview ‘Speed Dating’ 

One of the most painful parts about hiring is how many hours go into the process. To add insult to injury, time is scheduled with managers who already have a ton of work on their plates. When my team chatted about this challenge, someone suggested “speed dating” for interviews. At first everyone hated the idea, but eventually, they decided it just might help us hire. So, we tried and loved it! Here is how it works.

Step 1: Spend 10–15 minutes screening candidates with good resumes over the phone. Try to get down to around a dozen potential applicants. 

Step 2: Schedule everyone on the same day and at the same time for their speed interview. Brief candidates on the process and give managers and supervisors a set of questions to ask. 

Male indian hr, recruiter or employer holding cv having online virtual job interview meeting with african candidate on video call. Distance remote recruitment conference chat. Over shoulder view.

Step 3: Break members of leadership up into “stations.” Each focuses on a different part of the interview (work history, personality, etc.). 

Step 4: Just like in speed dating, start all of the candidates at different stations. Then have them move from one to another, spending 15 minutes in each. 

Step 5: At the end of the speed interviewing, debrief the candidates. Make sure they don’t have any additional questions, then send them on their way! 

Step 6: Narrow down your candidates to a select few you could truly hire.

Step 7: Bring the final candidates back for a one-on-one interview and potentially a shorter group interview. Then, pick the winner! 

Overall, this process helped us shave approximately 20 hours off the total interview and hiring process. Even better? So far, the new hires are working out well.

Lesson Learned: Systems Are Everything 

Early on at Newsletter Pro, we didn’t have any kind of system for hiring people. We asked each candidate different questions during the process. We evaluated resumes based on how the person reading them (usually me) felt about the information on the resume that day. Sometimes we even picked each new hire based on the first semi-decent resume and interview that came our way. Yikes!

Automation Processing Hiring Strategy

As you can imagine, this was a huge mistake on many levels. But it taught me that you MUST have a system for hiring, whether you need to add 1 person to your team or 100. At the bare minimum, that system needs to start with a solid job description. Then excellent phone interview questions and in-person interview questions help narrow the field. Finally comes group activities and questions. These will help you determine if a candidate will be a good personality fit for your team. 

Our process to hire employees was not this detailed in the beginning, but it is now. I truly wish I could have started doing things the right way from day 1 and avoided that hassle. 

Big Win: Kick-Ass Culture 

When I first started Newsletter Pro, I wasn’t 100% sure we needed to invest a lot of money and time to create a “company culture.” Fast forward to today, and without a doubt, it was one of the single best investments we ever made

Our company culture has had an impact on numerous aspects of our success, including how we hire. Our first criterion for anyone we interview is that they fit in with our 9 core values. I affectionately think of this as “our special brand of crazy.”

The Problem: Before we implemented our core values, we had a 50/50 success rate on new hires. Half would work out and half would quit or get fired shortly after starting. 

bull terrier dog tie going to work as office worker boss with nerd reading glasses , isolated on white background

Considering many estimates put the cost of a bad hire at $10,000 or more, this mistake was EXPENSIVE. The cost was not just monetary. Overall, company morale would go down, and the person who didn’t work out left with stress and shame. Nobody won. 

The Solution: To fix this problem like we did, you need to develop a set of core values that every person in the company has in common. These values are the bedrock of your company culture. So, when you hire, your first step should be finding out if a candidate fits your core values. If they don’t, they shouldn’t get to the second round of interviews — ever.

Now that we filter with our core values early, we have a 95% hiring success rate. Almost all of our hires stick. To learn more about core values, check out the book “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish.

Lesson Learned: Strong Leadership Is Key 

You’ve likely heard the saying “Slow to hire and quick to fire.” In some sense, that is true — you need to hire slow and, at times, fire fast. But most of the time, the people I’ve had to fire ultimately got to that point because I failed them as a leader somewhere along the way. 

That failure could have been a poor hiring decision on my part, lack of training, or a vague job description. Even the lack of clear and regular job performance feedback from me could have played a part. Any way you slice it, that is my failure as a leader. If you’re struggling to figure out why your team can’t find or keep good hires, look in the mirror. Investing in leadership coaching or a mastermind group could make all the difference. 

As an entrepreneur, I know it’s more fun to create new sales strategies or an amazing marketing system. But it’s all for naught if you can’t find, hire, train and retain amazing employees. Keep these tips in mind as you plan your strategy for beating the odds of the Great Resignation.

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