Getting the right people on the bus!

Posted by Renee Welsh on 31-Jul-2013 16:22:39


A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post on the importance of Corporate Culture and what we intend to create within our business. It was at this time that I also started to research recruitment processes and techniques that would assist us in selecting candidates that were the perfect cultural fit for our organisation and, as Jim Collins recommends, get the right people on the bus. Often easier said than done.

I have interviewed a number of people throughout my career with varying degrees of success. Some people look brilliant on paper and then either don’t pitch for the actual interview or are less than impressive in person. Others put on an excellent show, say all the right things, suck you in and then are unable to deliver during probation. It is so difficult to really get to know if a person is the right fit for the role or our work culture within 1 hour. So how do you increase your chances of hiring ‘the perfect fit’?

I have had a few colleagues go through a rigorous interview process with Google after having ticked the GPA and MBA boxes that even allow you to apply. One went through 13 interviews only to come out the other side battered and bruised and no wiser as to why they were not chosen in the end. One of them received an email saying they had decided to hire internally and please fill in this survey to let us know how we can improve our interview process. This was certainly not something I would expect of Google.

Interestingly, Google has just reviewed their hiring process after an internal evaluation and has realised that test scores are pretty much useless for evaluating candidates. The average number of interviews is now down to 5.2 – still a lot of interviews – I am not even sure what I would ask or be evaluating by the 5th interview?!

There are many other examples of organisations and experts talking about their recruitment process and what works for them.

I was determined to create a rock solid recruitment process for our business that would assist us ‘get the right people on the bus’ from the beginning. After all, we are a small business and I don’t want to be continually recruiting as it takes a lot of time and money and I could be focusing on other things. After reviewing multiple techniques, and with the assistance of our business coach, we came up with our very own recruitment process.

  1. Research the Job Description / pay range / incentive package etc.
  2. Write the the JDs in our language
  3. Advertise on SEEK, LinkedIn, Forums, etc
  4. Create a criteria list of must haves and desirable traits
  5. Receive CVs and applications
  6. Create a short list of those who full fill the must have criteria and rank according to level of desirable criteria
  7. I am to Interview 5 shortlisted candidates per role
  8. Second interview with Andy: Interview 2 shortlisted candidates from the 5 I interviewed per role
  9. Review together the candidates we interviewed and short list who we would like to take through the rest of the process
  10. Reference check the short list of candidates ensuring we question for areas we are doubting
  11. Possible joint interview with us together on values (if necessary)
  12. Possible valued advisors interview (over the phone)
  13. IWAM
  14. Social with the team
  15. Decision

This process may seem lengthy but it is now our formula to successful hiring. Layered on top of our recruitment process is a specific interview technique called behavioural questioning. Again, our business coach introduced us to the concept and I researched it extensively prior to arranging our candidate interviews.

The theory behind this type of questioning is that past behaviour is the best predictor of future performance in similar situations. By asking candidates to relate what they did in past jobs or life situations that are relevant to the particular job, you can get a better understanding of how they may perform.

Based on this, I created a specific list of behavioural questions such as:

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree with.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  • If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?

These questions were tailored to the role I was recruiting for and I have to say, for someone who has never liked interviewing people, after my first interview using my new found techniques I was in my element.

The ability to really get under a candidates skin and get to know them on a deeper level (without even them knowing) was amazing. I learned so much about their values, what was important to them, how they would handle specific situations, why they did what they did and what they would like to improve next time and why. The level of information was astounding and assisted me filter our candidates easily from 5 to 2 for a second round interview.

Our CTO and co-founder, Andy, conducted the second interviews in a much more informal manner to assess cultural fit – imperative given we are a small team.

Thereafter we conducted reference checks, again adopting behavioural questioning, and finally requested top candidates complete an IWAM. An IWAM is an Inventory for Work Attitude and Motivation and it assists us look for blind spots our chosen candidate might have in their attitude or approach to work, sanity check our own assessments and assists us effectively manage our candidate.

We then had a social outing with our chosen candidates and existing team members, which was a bit of a laugh and certainly broke the ice before they started the following week.

This process worked for us.

We love our bus and have a wonderful team; all work hard and laugh together. I look forward to using our process again when we are ready for our next hire.

Topics: Blog

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