Steve Krull is the CEO and co-founder of Be found onlinean award-winning digital marketing agency.
Building your company culture starts in the hiring process: soft skills versus hard skills and hiring generally good people. My own company has evolved our hiring process over the past five or six years, which grew out of a big mistake we made many moons ago when hiring someone. They didn’t last more than a few months, and we looked at ourselves in the mirror and said, “How the hell did we let them through?”
The answer: We only let them through based on hard skills and didn’t evaluate them on soft skills. We had a need and wanted to fill it as quickly as possible. We soon realized this was a mistake.
Interestingly, their manager at the time later said, and I paraphrase, “I knew I should have trusted my gut. I should never have let that person in here. Everyone loved them, but there was something about them that I didn’t think would fit.
Now there were enough resources to ensure a more effective interview process, but we just didn’t use most of them. We thought, “Oh, we can talk to people and find out who the good guys are.” In this case it was to our disadvantage.
But we have learned from this experience and have adapted our hiring process accordingly. So now we ask everyone on the interview team how well they think a new candidate will fit. Questions that can help you with this:
• How well do they fit?
• How well do you think they would play with others?
• Honestly, are they really going to be an annoying colleague?
An optimized recruitment process
Our hiring process has evolved into more of a three-step process, which I hope you find helpful:
1. Have HR conduct a pre-screen interview first. This doesn’t have to be a full emotional intelligence test, but they may touch on some of the emotional intelligence questions that are important to understand about a candidate.
2. Engage the team in a group interview and ask everyone for their assessment. Then, as a team, evaluate their hard and soft skills.
3. Involve yourself in the interview process. I insist on interviewing each candidate myself, because while I hate to say it, I consider myself the steward of our corporate culture, and I want to see how each person can help advance our culture.
There is a caveat to that third step: If they report directly to me, I will conduct a more thorough interview to evaluate their hard and soft skills. It’s a bit of a funky discussion, but for the soft skills, I’ll include questions to gauge emotional intelligence, such as, “How would you resolve a dispute between two colleagues?” or “Tell me about a time someone criticized your work.”
Based on your interview (or series of interviews), I recommend that you give a thumbs up or a thumbs down as a team. Today, for my team, we really want to be unanimous. So when we’re scratching our heads over someone, it’s usually a no.
When hiring someone, I think it’s important to make a unanimous decision and make sure the candidate has both the necessary hard and soft skills to do the job well and fit into the company culture. Don’t make the same mistake you did years ago and don’t rush to hire someone just because they have the right technical qualifications.