How to Hire
31 December 2021
One of the problems with hiring is that it’s boring. Extremely boring. There is almost nothing worse than starting off an interview and realising immediately that there is no way you’re going to hire this person.
A lot of the time because it’s so boring, the moment we find someone even borderline suitable for the role, and we convince ourselves that they’re the right hire. The problem is that in an interview, liking someone will trump a lot of other things. If someone is just likeable, that can mask the fact that they might not be the best person for the job.
When you’re hiring someone, you should actually be making three decisions, not one. You are deciding:
Can they do the job?
What are the skills necessary to perform this role, and do they have them?
Will they do the job?
What are the behaviours and traits that are important for this role, and do they exhibit them?
Do I want them to do the job?
Are they the kind of person you want working with you?
I’m not going to cover how to answer those questions here as that’s standard hiring practice. Skills testing and behavioural interviews or questionnaires are all common approaches and you can pick the appropriate methods for your needs. What I think is worth spending some time on is why the order in which you go about answering these questions matters.
Ideally we want to minimise the amount of time we spend on hiring, whilst still giving ourselves the best chance of making the right decision. To do that, we need to adjust our hiring process depending on the role we’re hiring for, and the circumstance we find ourselves in.
For each hire, we need to consider the following:
What’s the cost of answering each question?
Let’s say you’ve decided on this approach to the three stages:
- Can they do the job - A technical test completed remotely that takes 45 minutes for a senior worker to evaluate
- Will they do the job - An online behavioural test that’s evaluated automatically, but that you’re charged for.
- Do I want them to do the job - A face to face interview with management
These each present different costs which depending on your circumstance may be more or less palatable. If one of those costs is far less than another, it makes sense to put that lower cost step higher up the process. But making the decision just on this factor isn’t enough, there’s another key piece of information you need.
How likely is the Yes?
Depending on the role, the hardest Yes to find will be different. For a senior technical role for example, it might be much harder to find someone with the skills you need than the behaviours. If you’re hiring a Junior however, you might not need them to be very skilled already as you intend to train them. If you have a particularly strong culture, finding people you want to work with who will fit in might be the most challenging.
Depending on who you are, and the role you’re hiring for, a No is going to be more likely in certain parts of the process, so it makes sense to look for that No first before wasting time on the other questions. There is no point in getting a Yes for the first two stages if the last stage has a 90% No Rate. Getting the No as quickly as possible should be the goal.
Putting this together
Once you know what it costs you to answer a question, and which question is most likely to be a No, you can order your interview process with that in mind. If you think twice as many people are going to be a No when it comes to skills as for the other areas, and testing for skills costs the same, then test for skills first.
But, if you think twice as many people are going to be a No when it comes to skills as for the other areas, but testing for skills costs three times as much, then it shouldn’t be the first step.
If you approach it this way, you’ll spend the least amount of time and money cutting out the most number of inappropriate people.
This leads me to the final tip. You should be trying to put people off even before the interview. Write your job adverts in way that will definitely put off the kind of people you don’t want to hire. The point of the advert isn’t to get as many applicants as possible, it’s to get the right applicants. So don’t be afraid to be brutally honest in your job postings, it will save you time and help you in the long in the run.