Driving Your Business Blindfolded
I went on a really long drive last week. It was a road I’ve traveled hundreds of times before— I know every curve and bump by heart. It felt really good driving on a familiar path. But what if I told you that I drove the entire trip blindfolded? Don’t worry, I didn’t. I love my family and would never risk other drivers on the road!
But you would think that I had lost all of my marbles, right? And yet, so many business owners do exactly that. They stick to a familiar and comfortable road along their entrepreneurial journey, driving on auto-pilot because it’s safe. Sometimes, it seems like they really are wearing a blindfold. Here’s a perfect example: Think about your hiring process. You place an ad online, interview a bunch of candidates and hire one (or several). Then, you pray that you made the right decision. Right?
Sure, sometimes this approach works. But choosing a candidate via a coin toss will also work 50% of the time. In fact, research shows that using the most common interview techniques results in a predictive value of 52%— a mere 2% better than the flip of a coin! If you’re tired of hiring a candidate, only to discover that he or she is nothing like what they presented during the interview, you need to change your hiring practices. Here are a few tips that I tell my clients when it comes to hiring more effectively:
Conduct a job analysis: Perform a systematic investigation of the job. This will reveal everything that the person needs to be able to do. A good place to start is by sitting down with people who are currently filling the role. Or, you can speak to the hiring manager or any other person who may have insight into what the job truly is. Then, create a list of exactly what the job entails. This job description should be much more detailed than what you probably have today.
Create a Star Profile: Compose a document that lists 7-13 of the most important competencies a person needs to excel in the role and your business. You already have a great job description that you completed in step one. Now, to create the “Star Profile,” answer this question: What would it take for someone to do a great job? For example, if in step one you wrote that the job includes a duty like adjusting to constantly changing client demands, your Star Profile would probably include the competencies of high-stress tolerance and flexibility. People with these two characteristics will perform great when it comes to the above task. Don’t forget to include competencies that align with your company’s culture.
Use interviews, but also use objective data: I always recommend using personality assessments and ability tests to see who the person really is— not just who they want you to see during the interview. Choose a standardized assessment that will balance out your own biases and those of your team. And make sure you only select assessments that were scientifically developed, and that have been specifically validated for employee selection; many assessments that are great for personal development are absolutely not suitable for selection.
Compare apples to apples: Here is a harsh reality— your interview process is probably bad. I’ve worked with hundreds of managers in many businesses, and I can tell you with a high level of confidence (and disappointment) that most entrepreneurs don’t know how to interview well (but this is a subject for a whole other article). During the interview, ask candidates the same questions, in the same order. In fact, create a complete interview guide that you and other inter- viewers can follow. This will lead you to make a decision that you liked (or didn’t like) a person because of their personality, not because of the questions you may or may not have asked.
Rate your candidates: The Star Profile you created in step two is your best friend! Using the Star Profile, rate each one of your candidates to make sure they have the competencies that are required to be successful in the role. I recommend a consistent five-point scale for each competency. Then, create a sum across all competencies for each candidate. All you have left to do is pick the candidate that has the highest score. Then you can really make better hiring decisions.