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I was in a fraternity in college. It was fun. I made some good friends, we had some good laughs.
Every year during rush period, freshman were nominated and voted on to be potential members. The meeting in which these votes occurred was, shall we say, buffoonish. (Yup, it’s a word.)
Here’s what happened.
All the existing members would gather in a room. The person in charge would have a list of all the nominees. They’d read out one of the names and open the floor for discussion.
“Discussion” might be a generous term. The only “discussion” consisted of people saying “yeah, he’s a good guy.”
One year I decided to tally the “good guys”. It was said 176 times in one meeting. That’s an average of 5.9 “good guys” per nominee.
It appears that our sole criteria for becoming a member of the fraternity boiled down to those four words: “he’s a good guy.”
I thought this was absurd. Of course, I was a young lad at the time, naive about the realities of business.
Imagine my surprise when I later learned that the realities of business were not much different.
Failure To Learn
Every company wants to hire A-level people.
When you are the hiring manager, it’s up to you to interview a bunch of people and determine who would be an A player.
That means being able to get beyond the “he’s a good guy” stage.
[Editor’s note: Or good gal. Or good person.]
It’s not easy.
Learning how to determine whether or not someone is an A player takes practice and training and, frankly, a fair bit of time out of the comfort zone.
How much training has your company provided to you on how to properly interview and assess talent?
I know your answer. It’s “None.”
You’ve received no interview training, right?
Don’t feel bad, little Buckaroo, you’re not alone. It’s the reality of our world and it’s why so many hiring consultants do so well. Your company expects you to be great at interviewing but your company is not teaching you how to be great at it.
The Cost of Bad Hiring
Hiring the right people is arguably the most important function of any company. After all, every company is just the sum of its people.
Companies aren’t productive, people are. Companies aren’t innovative, people are. Companies aren’t great at sales or finance or marketing, people are.
The people you hire matters.
Hire the wrong people and you’ll be set back in a lot of ways, including the aforementioned productivity, innovation, and operations.
From a financial perspective, the cost of a bad hire is 30% of the employee’s yearly salary. Other estimates say it’s much higher, especially since it takes up to 2 years for a new hire to match the productivity of a longer-term employee
The Reason You Hired The Bad Person You Hired
You’re almost guaranteed to hire the wrong people at some point.
In fact, 30% of all new hires leave companies within the first 90 days.
What’s your natural response when a new employee doesn’t work out? If you’re like almost everybody else, you’ll say something like, “clearly, that was the wrong person.”
You’ll then rebuild your candidate pool and start interviewing more people to fill the role.
This, my friend, is the problem.
Actually, the problem is your belief that the person you hired is the problem.
The person you hired is NOT the problem.
Your hiring process is the problem.
And unless you change it, it will continue to be a problem.
Remember, you can’t fix problems with the same thinking you used to create them.
Albert Einstein said that. And he was a pretty smart guy – in addition to being a good guy.
How To Avoid Bad Hires
My friend Eric Futoran is the epitome of “a good guy”. He so would’ve been accepted into my college fraternity.
Beyond that, he’s wicked smaht. He has built very large companies. Including at least one billion dollar baby.
If you ask him his secret to success, he won’t say things like “innovative product” or “great sales team”. He’ll probably just utter one word.
Maybe it’ll be “culture”. Or he may say “people”.
It will be one of those two words. Which one it is doesn’t really matter. Because “culture” and “people” are almost synonymous.
Creating a company culture is about hiring the right people that adhere to your cultural values.
You won’t have an innovative product, a great sales team, or any of that other hullabaloo without the right people. You’ll just have a whole bunch of “good guys/ good gals”.
The Secrets To Hiring The Right People
Eric sends out an email every Monday morning to his staff at Embrace. His emails are amazing. In fact, if you like what I write, you’ll love what he writes. He’s much smarter than I.
In his recent message, he talked about “Recruiting for Culture”. Eric understands better than almost anybody, that in recruiting it is critical to get beyond the “good guy/good gal” conversation to really know a person.
Luck for us, he’s created a process around it, and lucky for you, I’m going to tell you the 5 elements of what it is. Cause I’m a good guy.
The key to continually hiring A-players and building a successful and scalable business is that every stage of the process (interviewing, onboarding, managing, and growing) needs to adhere to a company’s core values. There is absolutely no wiggle room here. None. Zippo.
At times you may feel an urgency to fill a role. Or maybe you’ll fall in love with a candidate’s skill set. If you allow any of these ideas to influence you, you will make a bad hire. It is always better to wait for the correct hire that adheres to the core values than to bring on somebody who doesn’t, regardless of the pressure you face or the skills they bring.
Every interviewer is responsible for 1-2 of the company’s core values. Every core value must be covered with every candidate. Each interviewer must be comfortable digging deep into the core value(s).
Discomfort is Important
Most people who conduct interviews are focused on having relatively easy, surface conversations. They are simply looking for “the good guy / good gal.” However, you only get to know the surface of a person when you’re having surface discussions. It’s vitally important to dig deep into subjects. To the point where the candidate may feel uncomfortable not knowing the answers or having to reveal one of their flaws.
[Editor’s Note: The Five Why’s are always a good tool]
Always ask the same questions to every candidate. It’s the only way you can accurately compare.
So many companies these days run their hiring process just like my college fraternity’s rush. But a company full of “good guys / good gals” is not the criteria that drives success. It’s definitely not the way to find A-players.
So next time a candidate doesn’t work out, instead of blaming the person, blame the process. Your company’s growth depends on it.
Oh, and you can read Eric’s full message here.
Somewhat Relevant Quote
“Hiring the best is your most important job“ at whatever cost.
Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple, complicated guy
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