Finding the right employee is almost never easy. You go through seas of resumes, cover letters, and bad follow-up emails until finally a few good applicants seem to stand out. And if they don’t turn out to be completely different in person, it becomes an even harder decision: which person is the right one to hire?
With so many qualified and talented applicants still out there looking for jobs, it may seem like you have the pick of the litter. In reality, not everyone is going to work well with your company—a lesson that many of us have to learn the hard way.
Well it’s not all a guessing game: hiring the right person is often about knowing how to go about the hiring process better. We’ve got seven tips here that are sure to make you a better screener, and help you hire the right person for your next open position.
Hire Where You’re Weak, Not When You’re Weak
While you’re necessarily in a place of need when you hire someone, you don’t have to be in a place of desperation. Rather than waiting until you’re in “do or die” mode to hire someone, analyse where you’re currently weak, and begin to bolster those teams now.
For one, that might help you to analyse internally where people can be shifted to strengthen a team. But if you have someone whom you know isn’t long for their role, then help to make that team stronger while the person is still there, not after they’ve left and there’s no longer room for error or time.
When you’re desperate, you’re judgment is skewed. Don’t put yourself in that position, and you’ll already be a step closer to making a smarter hire.
Ask Better Interview Questions
Those weird questions that you see coming from Google and other big tech companies and just strange for the sake of strangeness. They’re trying to get at deeper issues than “what would you say has been your biggest accomplishment to date?”
Anybody can talk well about themselves given the proper space to. It’s easy for an applicant to put on his or her best face in job interviews, but that doesn’t give anyone an accurate picture of who that person really is—or how they’ll fit into a team.
Instead, you need to learn to ask smarter questions. Try to find out who the person in, how their brain works, how they process challenges and handle collaborations. Try to spark their passions, invoke some emotions, and learn about their story.
A resume can tell you a lot, but good questions can help you answer the questions you really want to know.
Broaden The Interviewer Pool
Everyone wants to have a broad swathe of people to interview, but how about the panel of people they interview? Don’t just have potential candidates interview with you, or the HR people. Have them interview with potential coworkers and direct supervisors.
The truth is, you don’t know exactly how each employee works and thinks, and what people and processes work best for them. So why try to screen people on their behalf? Have each department, or several prominent employees, take a crack at interviewing a candidate—whether or not they’ll directly work together.
That way, you’re getting all of your different personalities’ perspectives on how a candidate may fit into your vision—it leaves room for a much fuller picture.
Don’t Let Appearance Trump Potential
We’ve all seen the messy geniuses. The Mark Zuckerbergs rocking hoodies and jeans. Or how about the hard working single parents who don’t have time to grab a nicer outfit before an interview? They may be disheveled but that doesn’t mean they’re the wrong fit.
If we hold too fast to traditional interview standards, we may lose out on some of the best candidates—the ones that are really hungry to succeed, but may not “have it all together” right now.
Some people simply haven’t had the same chances and training that prepare them for “nailing an interview.” If we only appeal to those people, we miss out.
Privilege Company Culture
There are going to be plenty of people that have the exact same skill set and talent levels, but not everyone is going to be in line with your company culture. Make sure you find a personality that is going to gel well with both employees and customers.
If they’re extremely talented but not even remotely pleasant, then their lack of customer relations abilities may be more of a turnoff than their skills are a bonus.
Always Conduct An Assessment
Always put someone’s skills to the test. If they’re going to make claims, they should put their money where their mouths are. Whether that means a trial run with customers, a skills test, or a problem to solve, assessments are a must-do to try out any candidate.
Sometimes you can even go a step further by bringing them on for a “trial day.” Whatever you can do to see them in action, you should make a point to do it.
Look for the SWAN
And while it might be hard to remember all of these points exactly, you can always remember to look for the SWAN: Someone who’s Smart, Works hard, Ambitious, and Nice.
If you’ve got those four qualities, then you’re sure to have a candidate who’s got the potential to succeed. Then take the time to onboard them well—and don’t be afraid to admit mistakes along the way. If you need to start over, don’t let your team suffer by waiting. The right candidate will come along if you keep looking.
Rob Wormley is Head of Content Marketing at When I Work Follow Author on Twitter. This article appeared on wheniwork.com.