Wright Foundation | September 27, 2018

Hire a Great Candidate:
Don’t Fall in Love with Your First Interview

Anyone who’s been through the hiring process knows it’s a challenge.

Want to hire a great candidate for you next job opening? Don’t make the mistake of getting attached to the first prospect who walks in the door.

If you want to hire a great candidate, there’s the screening, sorting through resumes, conducting interviews, and following up on references.

Hiring takes time. It’s tempting to fall in love with the first candidate who falls in the door, just to finish the search. Sure, they might be great—in fact, they may even be the right person for the job—but failing on due diligence sets you up for failure.

So, how do you hire a great candidate who will blend seamlessly with the culture of your company? It’s not difficult, but it means taking a step back and examining your hiring expectations and practices.

How to Hire a Great Candidate

As part of our blog series focused on entrepreneurs, we asked one of our Ph.D. graduates, Dr. Rich Blue to relate what happened to him during his recent hiring experience and how his coach helped him rethink his approach.

“My business was exploding and I needed to hire a new staff member.
Secretly, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find someone who could meet all my needs. I went through the proven channels to attract qualified candidates. I had numbers of staff screen the applicants to identify those that were best qualified and who aligned with our values and culture.
Interviews with the most promising candidates were set up. After my first interview, I knew I had found the perfect new hire. What a relief!
Later that week, I met with my Executive Coach and extolled the attributes of my soon-to-be newest hire. I was expecting a round of applause and instead got a stiff correction. My coach confronted me for falling in love with the candidate without going through the whole interview and hiring process.
I was angry and hurt. Why couldn’t he just celebrate my good fortune?
Underneath, however, I knew he was right. I was operating from scarcity and wanted to be rescued from the process of finding and training my new hire. I was looking for a savior.
Instead, my hire was the first step on a long journey of human and professional development.”

There’s No Perfect Candidate!

Just like there’s no such person as “the one” in our relationships, there are no perfect job candidates. First, this realization should come as a relief, not as discouragement. After all, can you imagine the process that would go into search and hiring if there was only ONE candidate out there for you?

Instead, it’s important to realize every candidate will bring strengths and weaknesses to the table. If someone appears to be the perfect fit, check your perception again. Are you looking for a savior? Someone to take you away from the hiring process?

In the long run, it’s more important to follow the steps to hire a great candidate who’s trainable and growth-minded. Discovering a qualified candidate who’s willing to learn and grow is more important than finding someone with the perfect skillset.

Follow these tips to help you hire a great candidate:

Interview many before hiring one. Make the investment to find a pool of excellent applicants. When you take the time to interview several solid potential hires you will feel more confident when you find the individual you want to begin developing and training.

Identify the leadership challenge your new hire represents. In Dr. Blue’s case, his mentor was completely uninterested in the candidate’s amazing qualifications and life experience. Instead, his coach questioned the factors that would make the new hire a challenge to lead and manage.

The hiring process itself is like the wedding. Once the party is over, the work really starts. You have chosen your next employee, now the work of training begins. This individual represents a wonderful potential contributor to your team. Avoid the fantasy of thinking they will solve all your problems.

As an entrepreneur, you have tons on your plate. Often, you may also need to wear many hats in your company. This means you must act as the company leader, trainer, manager, and even HR director. It’s important to recognize you will also experience a learning curve with hiring new employees—don’t expect them to know the ropes overnight (and don’t expect you’ll lead them perfectly either).

Personality is Important: For EVERYONE

In many hiring situations, you must take the time to test drive the candidate. See what they can do and put them through the paces, so to speak. Let them show you where they need more training and leadership, as well as what they do well. It’s important not to let a new hire’s resume or experience dictate what they need in terms of training and leadership. Remember every company’s culture and environment is different.

Each employee will come with their own personality strengths which will blend (and sometimes clash) with others in the office. The real-world dynamic can’t always be determined until the honeymoon period is over and the employee has settled in. As relationships form, it’s important to continue to encourage dialogue and even conflict in your workplace. Remember conflict is a healthy part of the growth process and a vital part of deep, productive engagement.

Often, we’re tempted to lead from above—dictating what to do and expecting candidates to follow directions and “jump in.” It’s important to consider not only the logistics of the job but the personality dynamics and strengths at play.

For direction, consider using the C.A.R.E. Profile to help identify each person’s communication and work style. The C.A.R.E Profile identifies core communication styles: Cooperators, Analyzers, Regulators and Energizers. The profile will help you determine who works best together with your new hire.

Some members of your team may fit naturally as trainers (the cooperators and energizers), whereas others may focus on accuracy and be less patient during the new hire’s early days. Often, regulators and energizers with natural leadership qualities can help the new person learn the ropes. Analyzers are more suited to check work for accuracy and help ensure there’s no slack or gap during the introductory period.

Help Your New Hire Understand Your Company

Remember each company is unique. Even companies that do the exact same job may have completely different internal cultures. As the leader of your company, it’s important you identify where the new hire will need more direction.

It’s also a good time to remember your new hire may identify gaps in your company or organization. During the hiring process, you may see cracks in your process that need to be filled. You may realize there’s a lack of procedural knowledge, a shortage of cross-training, or a dearth of documentation.

Use the hiring process as a chance not only to groom and train your new candidate but as an opportunity to assess the strengths and challenges of your management style and leadership as well. Broadening your office population means there are more people to lead, more eyes on strategy, and new insights you haven’t considered. Listen to the new ideas from a fresh perspective.

If you want to hire a great candidate, it’s important to be a great leader. Don’t expect a candidate to be the perfect new hire. At the same time, realize you won’t always be the perfect employer either. Embrace this opportunity to grow and learn together as you move your company forward to the future.

For more on leadership and growth, please visit the Wright Foundation. We’re proud to offer many great resources for business, as well as wonderful networking opportunities. Don’t miss our courses and lectures, which are available for download at a special introductory price. Discover your potential today!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.