What to look for when hiring new employees

Written by Simon Collins

Hiring new employees is an important part of running and growing a business. But it can be difficult to get right. And if you aren’t careful, you’ll waste time and money hiring people who will negatively impact your business.

In this blog post, find out what to look for when hiring new employees so you only hire the best.

Are they integral and honest?

It can be tempting to get excited by a candidate’s glowing CV. Maybe they’ve been to Oxbridge and worked for the best in the business, but are they a good person? Hiring someone who isn’t integral will have untold negative consequences. It’s a liability that your business doesn’t need. Richard Branson believes in prioritising caring, likeable people. In his words,

“The number one thing that matters, especially if you're going to be manager at Virgin, is how good you are with people. If you're good with people and you really care, genuinely care about people then I'm sure we could find a job for you at Virgin.”

Are they good learners?

An important skill to look out for is a candidate’s ability to learn. They’re going to have new procedures and projects when they start, so it’s important that they can pick things up quickly.

To find out if a candidate is good at learning, ask in the interview for an example of when they’ve had to adapt to a new situation. Also, consider giving them a test project to see how fast they can learn.

You’re looking for someone who will be proactive in their learning and development. If a candidate has a list of courses they’ve completed and talks passionately about recent or on-going learning programs, that’s a very good sign. Learning and development is something both the employer and employee should work on together. As Nick Gidwani at Harvard Business review says,

Treat learning as a shared responsibility. The onus is not entirely on you. Learning and development are also a responsibility of the employee. Not all learning activities will take place on company time.”

Do they have good communication skills?

Communication is an important soft skill you need to be screening for. It’s essential for a new hire to be able to listen to feedback and convey new ideas. Closely reading a candidate’s covering letter is the first stage of this screening process. A well-written cover letter is a good sign of strong communication skills.

Are they intelligent enough?

There’s no getting away from the fact that intelligence and astuteness are important skills. Ideally, you want to hire people that are more capable than you so that they can actively contribute to business growth. Neil Patel says,

“If you don’t hire smart people, you’ll end up wasting your time micromanaging. Employees hate that, and it will consume too much of your time.”

Do you like them?

Life’s too short to work with people you don’t like. When hiring, always consider whether the candidate is someone friendly who you’d like to get to know. Alongside likability, a new hire should also be loyal. Hiring someone who won’t stick around is going to cost the business time and money when you have to re-hire someone later on. Sir John Timpson, chairman of Timpson, puts it well:

“Look for a new friend who promises to be a loyal partner.”

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Have they done their research?

Every candidate should Google and understand the fundamentals of your business. They don’t have to know that Sally in HR loves cats. But they should understand what products and services you offer, who the CEO is, and who your target customer is. Ideally, the candidate will say things that show their knowledge during the interview. Harvard Business Review explains it well:

“It’s easy to say in an interview that you pay attention to detail, but this is a concrete demonstration that you actually do, and it catches my attention every time.”

Are they confident and able to speak-up?

Confident people will contribute more to your business. Someone who is confident will be more likely to work toward a promotion. It also means that they will contribute to discussions and offer more feedback to improve the business.

Author Ariana Huffington explains, “I love working with people who say exactly what's on their minds." In fact, it was the first thing she said when asked what she looks for in a new hire.

Are they productive?

Getting a lot done is the hallmark of a good employee. Of course, the quality needs to be high, but there’s no getting away from the fact that industriousness is a desirable trait. But don’t expect a new hire to be productive without help; it’s also the business’ job to inspire productivity, explains  Harvard Business Review,

“Virtually every employee can bring more to their job, but many don’t invest the additional ingenuity and creativity that they could. Inspired employees bring more discretionary energy to their work every day.”

Can they do the work?

No matter how qualified a candidate is, you need to be sure they can do the work. The best way to find this out is to set a test project. This is better than just looking at a portfolio for a few reasons. It means you can:

  • Find out how long a candidate takes to complete a task.
  • Set a project that exactly matches the idiosyncrasies of your business.
  • Test a candidate’s ability to use their initiative.
  • Challenge them with something new to see how they handle pressure.

It’s important to hire the right people

In short, it’s worth putting in the time to get your hiring process right. Bad hires will cost you twice. Once for hiring and onboarding, and twice for recruiting again when they decide to leave or are let go. Don’t waste your time and money training the wrong people.

Download our guide to running your business from anywhere

hiring the right people , employees and hr , how to find quality hires

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