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  • 31 March 2015
  • Eric Michaels

Hiring the right people: Art, or exact science?

Entrepreneurs usually have very different theories about management and product development, but they always agree on one thing: No business can succeed without great employees. And whether you consider the hiring process to be more of an art or an exact science, you need to take it seriously to get the right team on board. Here is a look at both sides of the issue, and why Sir Richard Branson—the charismatic founder of Virgin Group—considers it more of an art.

Great hiring takes time and a healthy dose of curiosity.

The science of the perfect hire
If you listen to small business owners talk about successful hires, you'll notice there are several recurring themes. One school of thought suggests you could pinpoint the science of the perfect hire using the ideas below:

  • Successful candidates embrace company culture. Whether you have a staff of one or 25, you should consider each potential hire's place in the company culture. According to John Schwarz, the CEO and Founder of Visier, company culture is everything to a start-up enterprise. Think about how the person you're interviewing will fit in during workplace meetings and social events. Even the most brilliant employee can negatively impact a business when his or her personality is not a good fit.
  • A strong candidate's passion is unmistakable. Similarly qualified job applicants may present you with a tough decision during the hiring process. Consider each applicant's level of passion about your company's product, and the industry in general. If one candidate seems like a remarkable hire for any company but the other has a passion for your business that cannot be contained, it usually pays off to go with the applicant with greater enthusiasm. Candidates with lower enthusiasm levels are more likely to move on when their hearts tell them it is time. On the other hand, someone who wholeheartedly believes in your mission can push other employees to do more for the business.
  • Great candidates address your team's weaknesses. While many entrepreneurs say team players make the best hires, others recommend balancing your staff by addressing a company weakness. For example, a candidate who offers your firm a chance to strengthen its marketing may be a smarter hire than one who fits perfectly without bringing anything new to the table. Remember to keep this balance in mind: A true team player will help when your team is small, but if your staff seems content to the point of stagnation, it could be time for a shake-up.
Richard Branson: Hiring is an art

A second school of thought suggests throwing out the book entirely when building your team. Sir Richard Branson leans more toward the art side of the ledger when considering a hire. Here are three pieces of his advice:

  • A resume is not the be-all, end-all of an application. According to Branson, "In business, there is only so much a bunch of words on a piece of paper can tell you about the person sitting in front of you." In other words, a PhD may not be a better choice than someone with an undergraduate degree if the skills possessed do not match the position. Branson suggests favoring the candidate with "broad experience and a great personality."
  • Try out group interviews. On the question of team building and creating a sound office environment, Branson says the trick is setting up a test run during the interview process. By inviting an applicant to a group interview, you can see how he or she acts with your team in place. When there is extreme awkwardness and/or a negative reaction from your staff, consider it a red flag. Branson suggests looking for someone "fun, friendly, and caring" to set the proper tone in the workplace.
  • Feel out the right time to start interviewing. "Great hiring takes time and a healthy dose of curiosity," Branson says. "You need to meet a lot of people, ask them about themselves and their careers, and tell them about yourself and your company in turn." In other words, let the process happen organically. When you discuss your business with talented people in a relaxed setting, the right candidate can appear.

There may be no exact recipe for finding the perfect employee, but there are certainly ways you can improve your chances during the hiring process. When it comes to recruiting, Hyrell can help you easily find, qualify and hire the best applicants for your specific needs while the Risk Assessment Group can perform background checks on potential hires. By taking the process seriously, you are doing your business a favor in the long run.

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