On hiring great people

by on 12th June 2014

As a member of our team mentioned on Twitter last night, we’re always hiring. We’re always hiring because fortunately, we’re always growing. This is good.

Getting good people through the door is quite difficult. You need to attract the right people, encourage them to want to enquire, or consider moving on from wherever they may be.

Then, assuming you’ve got an interview set up, you’re at risk from missing the mark during the interview, and bringing the wrong individual into your team.

It happens to anyone recruiting, building a team, especially in early start up phases – it’s not that people are bad or the hire is bad, it’s simply that somewhere along the recruitment process, something that got missed has now become an issue that holds an individual back from realising their true potential in an organisation. If you’re anything like I was in our early days, this idea makes you feel nervous. It’s a big decision, hiring!

Mismatched expectations, assumptions about an individual, and their assumptions about an organisation can lead to failure and expensive, time consuming replacement hiring.

So with all this said, I don’t think hiring well is difficult. Over the last few years I think I’ve refined my hire decisioning down to just a few golden rules.

If you’re hiring, and you consider these rules, you’ll be fine.

Let’s imagine you’re working on the basis that you think you’ve got a good candidate in front of you. You know they have the skills (because you’ve tested), but how can you be sure they’ll be great in your company?

I ask myself these questions:

Does this candidate have a story?

People who have achieved something in their lives, outside of their professional career are really interesting to me. That achievement doesn’t have to be particularly obvious; it simply needs to demonstrate characteristics, like perseverance, discipline and commitment. You might think I’m crazy to say this, but in my opinion people with some sort of background, be it sporting, artistic, academic or musical tend to bring an ability to dedicate and focus that is extremely desirable. Very competitive people tend to be very competitive on the job, too.

Will this individual fit in with the existing organisational culture?

I sometimes ask myself, “who is this individual most like in our team?”. Very often, the person you’re talking to in an interview will have a few traits that remind you of someone else you work with. It might sound weird, but think about it – successful people do tend to have similar traits. What are those? They’re hard to define initially, so think about the people in your business who are already achieving great things, and then try to duplicate that in your hiring selection criteria.

Would I like to learn something from this person?

What does this individual bring to your team? Will your company be smarter and more agile as a result of this person joining your company? Sometimes people bring skills and knowledge that you would really like to learn for yourself. That’s definitely a good thing in a junior hire and absolutely critical in senior level hires.

Finally, I always remind my team: if you have any reservations about a candidate, anything at all, address them or don’t recruit. Small reservations in an interview evaluation sometimes turn into big problems down the line.

If you think about it, you can catch yourself ignoring your concerns, particularly when you desperately need more people resources! The more you need people, the more willing you are to get the hiring process completed, at whatever cost. That’s something you should really think about.

So, they’re my golden rules – if you’re in front of someone you think you’d like to hire, then asking yourself questions like this can really make a difference in the decision making process.


  1. Hey Richard,

    These are some really wonderful hiring tips. Its is surely beneficial to someone who is into hiring resources but non the less it is full of great tips for people like me who would be interested in getting hired by awesome company like Builtvisible. Thanks for sharing in the crux that would help me polishing myself before I be in front of great leaders and recruiters like you.

    Thanks again!

    Regards, Nilesh :)

  2. No problem Nilesh, happy to share! When you’re ready we’d love to hear from you!

  3. Totally agree Rich, especially the point on “desperately needing more people resources” is a big, big issue.

    We’re doing pretty much the same and have on-going offerings (so not really taking down any openings) as I believe that if it’s the right person you’ll pretty much aways have a spot for those. Or at least in 99% of the time :)


  4. Useful, enlightening information and very pertinent to us at the moment. Nice one Rich…

  5. Thanks Si! Good luck :D

  6. We’re about to hire our first employee soon, so this article is timely … thanks for posting this!

  7. Love this article, some of the tips are really good, although it is’t always so easy and dealing with a wrong hire is not a pleasant experience.

  8. Great simple advice. I always look for candidates that have a commitment to “something” be it a sport, family, cause, etc. It gives me insight into their value set.

  9. Yes….
    Character comes before expertise when making decisions to hire or collaborate.
    Measuring character does require an indirect approach. “Achievements” is a good approach.
    Great points.

  10. Thanks Richard, absolutely perfect timing. My business partner and I are hiring our second [internal] employee tomorrow and have just read this before I leave the office for the day!

    Some really good points, I especially like ‘Would I like to learn from this person’ – I always say to surround yourself with people better than yourself (in some way) so that we grow. I’ve heard that “You’re The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With” so this is a really good point!

  11. Nice list of things to consider when hiring!

  12. Yeah, great article, I wish I read it a few years ago.

    I was very young and unexperienced when I hired my first two employees. Still can not get rid of them. They are my RELATIVES!!!

    My very good advice to you: never hire your relatives or friends.

  13. Good luck everybody and thanks so much for all the kind comments!

  14. Great article Richard. I really like the way you have “deconstructed” what has become a ridiculously over-engineered process. As you say, it all comes down to being clear on what it is you value and then testing for that. Your comment that “…successful people do tend to have similar traits. What are those? They’re hard to define initially, so think about the people in your business who are already achieving great things, and then try to duplicate that in your hiring selection criteria….”. Spot on!

  15. I think I a lot of hiring mistakes are made when we are hiring out of desperation. That is when we tend to ‘settle’ on the less than perfect fit for the position. You have to find the right person for the right job, not just whomever is available right now.

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