Hiring Great People is Hard Work

We just promoted one of our technicians to a store manager position. During the interview process he asked an excellent question: “What advice would you give a new store manager?” I had several answers but the first thing that came to mind was this:

Hire great people!

Yes, that sounds like the super obvious advice I said this blog would not be about. But every manager in our company – myself included – has messed this up the first (and sometimes second and third) time they’ve gone about hiring. As a manager you’re super busy and distracted with other tasks. That’s part of why you’re hiring. In that day-to-day bustle it’s easy to drop the ball on hiring and training.

This is always a mistake that costs you much more time and trouble down the road.

We’ve hired quite a few people over the years and have some advice.

  1. Don’t make the interview process too easy for the applicants. They should want to work for us – not just be looking for a job. A good candidate will go through the entire process and do it with enthusiasm.
  2. Have a hiring rubric. This was harder to do than I expected. It took a couple of hours to put our first rubric together and it’s been modified several times since. Once you have it, though, it will allow you and your staff to much more effectively interview and evaluate candidates.
  3. Get other employees involved in the hiring process. The more of our people that meet and interview a person, the more likely we are to hire a great teammate. For our technician hiring, have a current technician do the technical interview. Then the store manager and another technician do the personality interview. Plus there’s the social event and trial day discussed below. Each of these is a chance to get more people interacting with the candidates.
  4. Be prepared for the interview. This means reviewing the person’s resume, cover letter, and survey responses in advance. Have a list of questions you’d like to ask, various job related tasks you’ll make them do, and print off a blank rubric so you can take good notes during the interview. Ask lots of questions and fight the urge to do all the talking.
  5. Do a social event as part of the process. I really like a board game night but it could be dinner or bowling or anything else that allows people to mingle. Several people from our company should attend along with the top candidate(s). Then look for cultural contribution – not just cultural fit. In other words, will this person be fun to work with and help us grow as an organization?
  6. Have them work a trial day. We’ve hired people who were great at the interview process, and then halfway through their first day we knew we’d made a mistake. To prevent this, have your top candidate work a full or half day. Treat it like their first day on the job. If they do well, the job is theirs. If they don’t, we saved them and us a lot of grief.
  7. Ask the, “Hell yeah,” question when it comes time to hire. Are you really excited about this person? Can you say, “Hell yeah I want to work with them!” If not, keep looking.
  8. Don’t be afraid to start the whole process over if you don’t find the right person.

Step #8 is the hardest part of the hiring process because you’ve put in the effort and you really need someone. The temptation to just pick the best person available is huge – even if that person isn’t quite right. Don’t do it. You’ll regret it.

There’s lot of other advice I’d give to a new store manager but to be honest, if you get the hiring right – I mean really, really get it right – everything is much easier. Not only that, but I’ve found that managing exceptional people is one of life’s great joys!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s