1. Learn to separate the anecdotes from real data
You must approach your hiring process systematically and with data. There’s a book that I encourage every new employee to read – Thinking, Fast And Slow, written by Daniel Kahneman and based on his (and his colleague’s) Nobel-prize winning theories. I could have replaced big chunks of my MBA with this book. It teaches the reader about understanding their biases and to interpret information in a rational manner, which is essential if you are to hire the right people. Too often we allow ourselves to be driven by emotion or subtle prejudices, and the impact on our recruitment decisions can be profound. You have to be able to separate real data from anecdotes and opinions.
2. Develop a system
If you are to take a data-led approach then that requires a system. For every role and every candidate we hire, we try to assess four main things:
– Aptitude – can they do it?
– Attitude – do they want to do it?
– Experience – have they done it before?
– Fit – will they do it with us?
Each section includes a series of questions and results in a score. Each person scores separately, so we don’t influence one another. Again this allows us to easily and objectively compare candidates without being influenced by emotions or biases.
3. Don’t confuse intelligence with intellect
Nowadays one’s intelligence is too often demonstrated by one’s ability to Google and find the answer. Intellect, on the other hand, is how a person really thinks. Are they able to take challenging scenarios that they have never previously encountered and find creative solutions that get results? Are they able to come up with a clever UX solution to something they’ve never seen before? It’s important that the hiring process addresses this rather than just the person’s ability to gather information, as once they’re in the job you need to know they can tackle complex problems daily without someone holding their hand.
4. Maths skills are always important
Of course, they are far more important for some roles than others, but even a designer needs to have a solid grasp of numbers or how can they assess the impact of their work on engagement and conversion rates? It all comes back to data; every decision we make should be based on facts and figures rather than instinct.
5. Communicate your values, set the right expectations
In our business, we like all members of the team to be involved in everything, from reviewing our financials to discussing our new TV adverts. If someone just wants to work in a silo and nothing else then we’re probably not the right company for them.
It’s important that whatever the characteristics, values and culture of your business they are clearly communicated to candidates so that they can decide if it really is the place for them. Don’t fall into the trap of only telling them what they want to hear, no matter how talented they are.
6. Be frank and open
Once a new hire comes on board, we try to give as much feedback as possible in the first six weeks. Life moves quickly in a start-up so if there are problems with a new hire you must address them directly and immediately. You will then very quickly discover if the problems can be overcome or if the person was just not the right candidate for the role.
7. You don’t necessarily need to grow your team in order to grow your business
Companies are always thinking about their next recruit, but by developing your systems and technology there is almost certainly far more that you can do with your existing headcount. We are a small but senior team and that makes us fast, agile and cohesive. It also forces us to prioritise, whereas large companies have a tendency to lose focus. Don’t just assume that you always need to grow your team in order to grow your brand or your bottom line. That’s not the world we live in any more.