How to find and hire the best employees

CareersHow Do You Find the Right People?

Finding the right people is one of the most mind-numbing and exasperating tasks for any founder or manager. Depending on the size of your company, one of your early hires may be an HR Director. You want to get someone really good for this, because this person will be the one holding the gates for all subsequent hires. If HR isn’t competent about whom they let in and whom they let go, you’ll get a domino effect of negative repercussions. Here is a useful guideline:

The person doing hiring will have a tendency to hire and hold onto people that are similar to them.

If your HR Director is dishonest, then he will have a propensity for hiring dishonest people. This is not to say that dishonest people cannot reform – just be aware of the forces at work. If your HR Director is professional, competent and honest, he will tend to bring on people who are professional, competent and honest. Of course, anyone can misjudge and regret it later, but any way to narrow the margin of error is very valuable indeed.

Let’s assume you are being your own HR person for the time being. How do you locate the right people for the jobs you want filled?

Multiple Resources

There are multiples trees you can pick from when you’re on the hunt for new people. There are pretty much unlimited resources available online. First there is your company’s website. As you grow, expect to get more applications through your own site. There a quite a few hiring sites and most of them will cost you some money to put up an ad. For IT, is commonly used. Here’s a link to a list of hiring sites: 10 useful websites for hiring your next employee. Another way to find people is by networking. People network in order to find jobs – no reason you can’t network in order to find employees. The number of ways to network is only limited by your imagination.

What Are You Looking For?

Obviously, you are interested in things like skills, experience, and education – in about that order. What is someone able to do? That is what I am primarily interested in. Do they have any work in that field they can show you? Have they been trained in that field? You do look at those three factors and weigh them against each other. But don’t assume that just because someone went to college they have more skill than someone who didn’t – competence will be your key gauge, not how many letters they have after their name.

The Job Interview

Once you acquire some resumes and applicants that you are interested in, it is time to conduct some interviews. Someone texting or tweeting during a job interview is writing themselves off the list. Many of the people sitting in front of you will pretty much tell you anything you want to hear – because they want the job. Only asking “yes” or “no” questions won’t tell you much of anything. One approach you may opt to use is to give them reasons they wouldn’t want the job or shouldn’t take it. If you hand them all the problems of the job and they offer up good solutions for them, you may have the right person.

You should pose some hypothetical or real scenarios and ask them what they would do. Suppose you’re looking for a copywriter and have an applicant at your desk. Obviously a writer would provide samples of their work. Additionally, you hand her some material and ask what she thinks of it. This is material that you need rewritten because it is subpar but you don’t mention this fact. She says it’s pretty good – probably not the one for the job. If she had said it’s no good and needs to be redone then you might have your copywriter.

If you feel your computer network needs fixing, you could briefly describe it to an IT applicant – without saying if it was good or bad – and ask him what he would do with it. If he says he’d just “maintain it” then he’s probably not the right guy. If he proceeds to rattle off how he’d improve it then you may have a winner.

Maybe those seem like trick questions, but if someone is skilled they should be able to originate solutions that match up with what you want done. They may be substantially better at their specialty than you – they may prompt you to look at things a different way. These are often the ones you really want. It works the other way too – you don’t really want someone that compulsively changes things that are perfectly workable.


You don’t have tons of time for each interview, so you should have your “maybe” and your “no” stacks fairly soon. Most resumes will have references that the applicant has set up ahead of time. Ask them for some additional references – co-workers or former bosses. If they can’t provide any at all, it’s not a very good sign. If someone passes the first interview, call up their references and ask them some specific questions. Some things you are interested in: competence, actual tangible work they produced, honesty, reliability. You’ll have your own criteria for what you think is compatible and harmonious within your own group, so you’ll have to weigh all those things.

Personality vs. Competence

There’s always a certain element of chance when hiring. You never know how someone will do until they are there doing it. So assume nothing. Just because you like someone doesn’t mean they are right for that job. They could be your best friend and still mess it up unintentionally. Letting people know that the first 90 days (or pre-determined time period) is a trial period is very good policy. People should know where they stand. They should know that it is a trial and could go either way depending on their performance.

You should take some time and effort to make up company policy and have people read it so they know what is expected. You should help people with their jobs and make sure they know how to do things and how things flow within your business. You put trust in people and you give them chances. If you have to let someone go, best to be matter-of-fact and honest about it – don’t drag it out. Then the cycle starts over again.

Nothing replaces your own personal experience in hiring for your business, so there will be trial and error. Learn from your mistakes. When people are doing well, let them know about it. Reward and acknowledge their good work. Good luck!

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