I think perhaps there has been too much emphasis on hiring the right person for the job. From my perspective, the problem hasn’t been on being too intentional about the hiring process; intentionality is good. However, the problem started with an over emphasis on creating detailed job descriptions for candidates, likely a result of new electronic career sites that instantly bombard the company with hundreds if not thousands of applicants.
These very detailed job descriptions had two unintended consequences. The first unintended consequence was that they immediately disqualified someone who easily had the capacity to learn the job but lacked the actual experience. The second unintended consequence was that this over emphasis on matching the job description point-by-point led to hiring candidates based on their ‘past experience’ rather than their “future potential.”
My recommendation may seem a bit unorthodox but I’d recommend that we shouldn’t be hiring the right person for the job but simply hiring the right person. If we focus on the person, we’ll build the organization. By focusing on the job, we can often fill the job but miss out on bringing in the best people for the future.
Here are four things to look for in hiring the right person
1. Look for Cultural Fit
Cultural is not just important in a healthy organization, it’s ALL important. The company or church culture is defined by the people not by a corporate document or advertising. Culture is not what you do but how you do it. It’s the glue that holds the organization together. Leaders that seek to create a culture in their organizations that inspires, motivates and perpetuates their values and core principles need to hire people that have the same cultural fit.
2. Focus on soft skills.
Although the right skills are definitely an important factor in hiring the right person, particularly for high-skilled jobs, the truth is that all skills are acquired and most on-the-job skills are learned on-the-job. Soft skills are ‘people skills’ like communication and organizational skills, empathy, diplomacy and creativity. The right people have the soft skills that make them useful for the present and for the future. Technical skills can be acquired but personalities cannot.
3. Integrity matters
Warren Buffet was quoted as saying, “When looking for someone to hire, look for these qualities: Integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you”. Integrity in the workplace can be described as behavior that is fully consistent with stated organizational policies, principles, desired outcomes and values. Integrity isn’t just a matter of checking a box on the application form that states there are no warrants outstanding. It has more to do with attitudes than background checks. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Hiring managers often put integrity as one of the most desirable characteristics. Ask open-ended questions about success and failures as well as challenges and keep an ear open for ‘doing the right thing.’ Integrity will keep you and your company out of the newspapers and encourage people to keep coming back and recommend you to others.
4. Hire Natural Leaders
In the world of venture capital, it’s often said that a venture capitalist is much more likely to invest in a company based on their leadership team than their business plan. The reason is simple, business plans often need to be overhauled and great leaders can and will make the necessary adjustments. This is also true in the world of our churches and nonprofits.
Natural leaders are flexible; they know how to adjust to situations, market conditions and challenges when necessary. Natural leaders are continually investing in people around them. They understand that that training and empowerment creates more leaders and a company can never have too many leaders. Natural leaders also have tenacity, they know how to persevere and put in the additional effort when necessary. Finally, natural leaders are servant leaders. They serve their company and those around them and are not aloof or indifferent to the concerns of those around them and particularly the people that work for them.
Hiring the right person is extremely important. It’s important for the organization as well as the employee. Hiring mistakes cost us money. Beyond the obvious costs of the time in interviewing, relocating and training there are also the ancillary costs of how the bad hire will impact the rest of the employees. The wrong hires that are eventually weeded out and either quit or are terminated are expensive but not as expensive as those that stay.