Manage Your Business
How to hire the best people
This is part of a series of columns by Daymond John, an American businessman and author. It is presented by Chase for Business. Mr. John is compensated by Chase.
When you're just starting your business, and boot-strapping, you've got your hands in everything. You're the head of branding/chief strategist/bookkeeper, all rolled into one. But as your business grows, one of the ways you up your game is by learning how to delegate.
Identifying the best people to take on some of the essential tasks you're used to doing yourself is one of the toughest challenges in the workplace. You've got to trust your gut and due diligence. But let's face it, your company is never going to scale to its full potential if you don't.
When I get together with my fellow CEOs, one of the topics we keep circling back to is how to hire the best people.
The first order of business is to figure out your budget for the position. A lot of companies will try to nickel-and-dime potential employees, or offer vague guidelines in job postings with phrases like "salary commensurate with experience." Read between the lines of that one, and what you get is that they're out to pay their people as little as possible. It's important to pay people as much as you can afford, instead of as little as you can get away with. You get what you pay for, right? And, at the same time, you'll attract top candidates and people who are willing to work hard and share in that abundance.
Make the interview process a team effort
A strong interview process was something I developed over time—both as my needs changed, and my resources deepened.
When I branched out from my FUBU and fashion-related businesses to absorb the deal flow of all the Shark Tank partnerships that came my way, I was doing all the interviews myself. As my brand consulting company, the Shark Group, expanded, I was able to bring some of my team members into the process. This was important because I want my team to have a say in who they'll be partnering with in the workplace, and I want my potential hires to know the folks they will be working with.
I tend to ask big picture-type questions when I interview someone for a job. I'll ask them to describe themselves in two to five words. (My answer, these days: "I'm on a quest!") Or, maybe I'll want to know how they responded the last time something happened to them that was out of their control. Then, folks on my team ask the nuts-and-bolt-type questions that will often signal a candidate's fitness, demeanor, or experience.
Assess the candidates' values
I've also learned over the years how important it is to make sure your prospective hire understands and fits into your office culture. Someone might be completely qualified for a position on paper and at the same time completely wrong for your organization in the room. Susan Salgado, the influential organizational consultant, puts it this way: "Culture is the promise you make to your employees. Brand is the promise you make to your customers." I keep those words in mind when I'm looking to fill a position, because all it takes is one wrong person to set your company on tilt.
Really, if just one person doesn't subscribe to your culture—an informal style, say, or an open work station environment, or even something as simple as needing to work in complete silence while your people are used to pumping up the volume—it can become contagious. You might have solved one problem by hiring someone who's technically qualified, but created a whole mess of other problems by hiring someone who doesn't exactly fit in.
Identify personal and professional goals
Remember, when you're offering someone a job, they're not just coming on board to help you and your organization. It's on you to make sure you create an environment where each of your employees can achieve their own goals as well, and the only way to do that is to make sure everyone's on the same page from the very beginning: that's Job One, Day One. So it's key that you understand each candidate's personal and professional goals and make sure they align with your company's goals... and yours.
Hit all these notes, and you'll give yourself the best shot at finding the best person for the job. Go ahead and trust your gut—first impressions count for a lot—but dig a little deeper, do your homework, and give each candidate a chance to shine... or, not. Because, if all you're relying on are your instincts, it won't be long before you're back in boot-strap mode, your hands into everything, and you'll be no closer to your goals than you were when you were just starting out.
Daymond John is an American businessman, investor, television personality, author, and motivational speaker.