7 thoughts on “On hiring people”

  1. A friend asked via Facebook, "This is very thoughtful and I agree with most of it! I am curious how would a trial period work for someone moving for a job? Or someone who doesn't have time or money to agree to a trial period because they need a job? This might work in tech fields especially, but I would be concerned it would favor people with more resources."

    It's a great point that these recommendations won't work everywhere. Some kinds of organizations may be able to conduct a trial remotely, using email, chat, shared documents, etc. Even a company that only does on-site manufacturing in one location using specialized equipment could probably find a way to have a candidate demonstrate their ability to take a certain problem scenario and a certain set of tools and do something creative over time.

    Paying people a reasonable rate to participate in a trial is important. How they find the time to do that is definitely tricky; cramming it into evenings/weekends if you already have a full time job and a busy life would be hard. But I think when people are excited about a new thing in their life they can make room for it in some form, and it's up to the hiring organization to offer some flexibility in different ways to approach that.

    And yep, most of my experience with hiring is in the tech sector, whose hiring tends to be about people with some resources and flexibility already. But, as I've sat on hiring committees for non-technical not-for-profit organizations and other groups, I've still found myself applying these principles as much as possible..

  2. Nicely said! Agreed that the trial part is hard, if I have a job and would like to get a new one there's no way I'd quit to do a trial. But I'd totally be willing to work and be paid nights/weekends, and you're right it's the only logical way to bring in someone long term. However, I think it's really hard for something like that not to be biased against single parents or others with very limited free time.

    Also agree that hiring people is very difficult, in large part because the tools at hand (resumes, interviews, references) just aren't good at filtering for talent. Good employees are worth their weight in gold; they do their job well and make everyone around them better.

    Corollary is that bad employees, who may not even be bad people, are poison. As you said, be clear, give them honest feedback and guidance on expectations and how to improve, and if that doesn't work get them out the door.

  3. I couldn't agree more. Having gone through just this process recently, I can see if benefits both sides, with both potential employee and employer really getting to know each other first.

    I don't know how it works in the US but in the UK most jobs will come with a probationary period as part of the contract, allowing employees a quick way out if the relationship isn't working out. Essentially, this is here to compensate for a lax hiring process - a browse of a CV and a couple of short interviews is never going to create good fits.

  4. Some excellent thoughts here, Chris. Thanks for sharing. I've re-read this a few times to digest everything. Hiring decisions are indeed the most important decisions we make for our organizations. I recently read Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street, and the book offers insightful recommendations on hiring processes. You made your perspective clear on the value of interviews; however, interviews are an ingrained part of the process in my sector (higher ed). The book provides a very structured approach, with four different interviews: the screening interview, the "who" interview, the focused interview, and the reference interview. I haven't followed this approach perfectly, but I did utilize a few pieces from it in a recent search, and I think they were helpful.

    Regarding reference checks, I always request permission to speak to people (supervisors, peers, direct-reports) who are not on the candidate's reference list.

    Also, great point about not hiring for cultural fit. In the book Originals, Adam Grant advises to hire not on cultural fit, but on cultural contribution.

    Thanks again. Hope all is well!

  5. This is a great post - I would love to hear what you think about "virtual" hiring which is our challenge! I think in a world where remote is becoming more common, it also presents a unique hiring challenge. We still want to encourage that sense of "personal communication" with like minded people - but without meeting in real life it has been a struggle! I found your post through a search.....one of the best posts on hiring I have read yet - but no one seems to address that remote aspect! 🙂

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