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The point of hiring is not to get people on board the bus. Hiring right is getting the right people on board. It’s to get the right people in the right seats on the bus.  That’s the key.

Running a business is like chess and not checkers. In business, you don’t need people who all walk alike, talk alike and share the exact same strengths and weaknesses. In business, different roles require different types of people. Some roles require the ability to move diagonally, other roles require you to move like a knight.

What’s the key to hiring right?

Four factors in hiring right are:

  1. Cognitive Ability – Does the candidate have the mental capacity to think, learn, solve problems and perform the mental tasks required to fulfill their duties?
  2. Personality Traits – Are the candidate’s hard-wired personality traits compatible with the tasks they will be required to perform?
  3. Knowledge – Do they have the training and experience to perform the task?
  4. Cultural Fit – Do they fit in with the company’s belief system?

Which of these factors is most important? It depends on your situation.

  • Hiring Right For Cognitive Ability – Smart people figure stuff out! I figured that out myself which is proof of my theory… get it? There are several tests that allow you to understand if a person has the smarts to match the job requirement. There are standardized tests that measure cognitive ability.  Companies like MPO cognitive ability tests and here is an example of a free test. If you’re hiring someone to create complicated algorithms cognitive ability is an important factor in hiring right.  If you’re hiring someone to sweep floors… high functioning cognitive ability is not required.
  • Hiring Right For Personality Traits – Does the job require patience, attention to detail, and the ability to follow and not deviate from standard procedures? Or does this position present new challenges every day and uncertainty. Does the job require lots of interaction with people? We, humans, are hard-wired. Not everyone no matter how smart they are is suited for every job. I could interview for a CFO position and because I understand the principles of accounting and finance, and because I’m just so darn smart (misspelling is an indicator of genius) I might ace the interview. You could give me an accounting exam and as long as it wasn’t longer than 20 minutes, I could ace that too. But put me in a room loaded down with ledgers and ask me to crunch away at numbers for hours every day, and I’d fail miserably. I can be detailed oriented, I can follow complex procedures, I just can’t do it for a sustained period of time. It’s against my wiring. There are many good personality and/or behavioral assessment tools that will help you model and understand the best personality to suit your job requirement. You can then run candidates through an assessment to see if their traits match the job. I currently rely on MPO.  I prefer MPO to the outdated Meyers Briggs and DISC.
  • Hiring Right For Knowlege – If you need someone to come on board and be productive quickly, their education and relevant experience… the things you find on a CV are very important. If you want someone to be a great long-term productive employee and have time to train them… this is the least important hiring factor. If you’re hiring a programmer, give them a programming test.
  • Hiring Right For Cultural Fit – Cultural Fit is the single most important factor in employee retention. Have you defined your culture? You get the culture you tolerate. If you have not defined your culture, you have no hope of hiring to cultural fit. Define your culture and then interview for cultural fit. How do you interview for cultural fit? You ask behavioral questions. For instance, if you are a company of problem solvers ask, “Tell me about a time when you were assigned an impossible task and what you did about it.” Then dig in for specifics. If you’re a company that believes in a culture of customers first, ask, “tell me about your worst customer?”  Here’s a list of 50 interview questions for cultural fit.

Hiring right seems so easy yet most companies hire wrong. They usually get the person with the right experience or knowledge. But a mismatch of culture and traits are all too common.

Want help defining your culture? I work with people who run businesses all the time to be clear about their corporate culture. I learned most of what I know about the importance and effects of culture on corporate performance in the extreme cases where I was hired to turn around a failing company. Let’s talk culture. Press that little green button to schedule a complimentary one-hour online coaching session.

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