An Entrepreneurial Hiring Process

Your hiring process should quickly qualify the candidate, make a cultural fit assessment and then educate the prospect on what it will take to be successful in your firm.

Most hiring processes are biased towards identifying a skill match. Companies spend a great deal of time grilling employment candidates on specific issues such as years of experience, their credentials, and their technical ability in areas like sales, management, technology, or operations. When they find someone with a solid set of skills, they hire them. But what about attitude? What about cultural fit?

Top companies realize that cultural fit is just as important as the specific technical or professional skills you may have initially set out to find. They take extraordinary measures to attract and identify the rare individuals who will strengthen their teams. Extensive screening, although time consuming, is worth the trouble.

When I was with Rapid Systems Solutions, we hired over 300 people in a very short period of time.  Looking back at our successes and failures during this time, one point stands out. Whenever we let someone go, it was rarely because they couldn’t do the job. It was always a cultural mismatch, an attitude and behavior problem. In hindsight, this only makes sense. Since we had good engineers hiring other engineers, we were successful in identifying prospective employees with solid technical skills. That was never a problem. Even when someone’s skills weren’t up to par, if they were a good cultural fit and had a good attitude, we could help them improve their skills and become fully productive. However, weak skills and a cultural mismatch were always futile.

Focusing on a skill match during the hiring process is misguided. Instead of looking for someone who has experience managing the northeast sales territory, hire someone who has an inherent understanding of managing a sales force and knows how to solve customer problems and accepts accountability for every business decision she makes. Focus on finding business people with specific technical skills and not just the perfect skills match.

In Patrick Lencioni’s great book, “Five Temptations of a CEO“, he suggests that an overarching responsibility of a CEO or any leadership team is to take charge of building your team. Your hiring process is a critical step.

Analyze your hiring process. It should accomplish three things. It should:

  • 1. Qualify the Candidate
  • 2. Assess Cultural Fit
  • 3. Educate the Candidate.

I’ll discuss each of these objectives over the next week or so.

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