By Ashleigh Brown
Hiring talented, ‘right fit’ employees is as much an art as a science – and it’s something that we take great pride in having mastered. Our staff, in both the UK and the US, are dedicated, energized, and definitely engaged. They’re also outstanding human beings who always go the extra mile. We’re not trying to brag – rather, we’d like to show you how we find such great people so you can do it too.
For many organizations, the hiring process can be a minefield, and the stakes are high. The right hire can elevate business performance and positively impact engagement levels. The wrong hire… has the opposite effect.
Engagement Starts at First Contact
Employee engagement starts from the very first contact you have with a candidate, which means your hiring process itself should be engaging. That doesn’t just mean making a positive impression on candidates, but also actively working to make sure you’re communicating your Engaged Purpose (more on that below), asking questions about prospect’s personal and professional goals, and communicating honestly and clearly throughout.
Jayne Deakin, our Global Operations Director, says “I’ve had a number of successful candidates contact me to say they’ve actually learned a lot about themselves during the interview process.”
Communication is at the Heart of Engaged Hiring
We take great care with our job descriptions, ensuring they clearly articulate key accountabilities and expectations for the role, as well as outline the type of person we want to hire. The goal is to achieve absolute clarity from the start, from both sides. We need to be clear on what they hope for and expect too.
We’ve found that honesty really is the best policy. So, if someone asks a question during an interview, we will answer openly and honestly, even when we don’t have a ‘perfect’ answer. This transparency on our part breaks down barriers and makes the candidates more open too. It’s amazing what you can sometimes find out!
The 3 Cs: Chemistry, Capability, Compatibility
Engagement Multiplier is a fast-growing organization, which means work can often be fast-paced. This makes chemistry between team members so important, because good chemistry can alleviate a lot of pressure. To assess chemistry, we look at what we call IFACE: Impact, Fun, Authenticity, Caring and Enthusiasm.
No matter what roles, skills, backgrounds, motivations and personalities our employees have, they all share these important core values (which also form our Engaged Purpose – the glue that holds our organization together). If someone is missing Impact, Fun, Authenticity, Caring or Enthusiasm, they are not the right fit for us.
How do we figure this out? We throw some curveball questions into the interviews – questions that are out of left-field – just to see how the candidate reacts. Do they respond with confidence and a smile? Or do they freeze and fumble? Do they have a sense of humor? Their reactions can yield just as many insights as their responses.
To check for compatibility, we use Kolbe scores…
More Science than Art – We Love Kolbe
For us, the “right fit” candidate is someone who will fit in seamlessly and enhance their team’s capabilities.
We use Kolbe scores to choose our final round of candidates for any given position. Before we even meet the prospects, we lay out the ideal Kolbe score for the position, writing down which personality traits and characteristics would be the most useful. We also take the Kolbe scores of the other team members into account, so each person’s strengths can balance out weaknesses in the overall team dynamic.
If you aren’t familiar with Kolbe scores, they’re from the Kolbe A Index personality assessment which identifies how test-takers instinctually solve problems, communicate and get things done. We wrote more about how we use Kolbe in our hiring process here.
Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly – but be careful how you explain that…
When Stefan was looking for a new assistant, he interviewed a wonderful candidate who he thought would be perfect for the job. Everything was going smoothly until the “hire slowly, fire quickly” mantra entered the conversation. The candidate took it to heart and decided to decline the offer, because she thought she’d be fired! We learned our lesson – and instead, we explain that “we take great care in the hiring process and don’t rush to fill positions”!
This story, fortunately, has a happy ending. Stefan asked to have one more meeting with the candidate and explained to her what he meant. This action reinforced the candidate’s desire to work with Engagement Multiplier because she appreciated our honesty, transparency and authenticity.
Your takeaway: Always be careful in your messaging, and… take time to find just the right people.
We also recommend not allowing ‘red flags’ to pile up before terminating an employee who is clearly not a good fit. Wrong fit employees can disrupt the energy and momentum of the rest of your team and cost you money (Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once estimated that bad hires cost the company more than $100 million). If an employee isn’t willing to adjust and engage, you’re better off cutting your losses.
Include the Team in the Interview Process
We use Kolbe scores to help ensure that a candidate will complement the rest of the team, but we also ask team members to help us choose the right fit in the last rounds of the hiring process. The team members whose roles will frequently rely on, or come into contact with, the new hire are asked to sit in on the final interviews and offer their opinions.
We have very low turnover, but the one or two members that are no longer part of our Chicago office were “coincidentally” not interviewed by members of the team. Maybe that’s not really a coincidence!
Culture is important, but Connection to your Purpose is Vital
We communicate our Engaged Purpose – what our company does, what impact it has on our clients and the world – to every prospect, right upfront, because we live and breathe our Engaged Purpose every day. It’s why we come to work with passion and enthusiasm. It’s why we love what we do, because we know we’re making a positive difference in people’s lives by making businesses better.
Any new hire has to buy into our purpose 100%, and to check that, we include questions in our interviews that help us identify their values and goals. Then we introduce our Engaged Purpose and see if they feel that aligns with what is important to them.
We meet quite a number of candidates for a role, and we take our time, which means we have to keep them straight! Jayne Deakin creates a scorecard for each candidate that allows her to quickly assess key skills that are required in the role, and weight them based on importance. She says it’s a helpful decision-making tool “especially when you find yourself in the fortunate position of having more than one candidate you’d love to hire for the role.”
That’s a problem we love to have. You can read more about how employee engagement helps attract top talent here.
Use Your Gut, but Not Just Your Gut
Our hiring process is really a checks-and-balances system of science-backed personality selection, experience, and yes – gut feelings. Experience has shown that even if a candidate ticks all the boxes, if your gut tells you they aren’t the right fit, they probably aren’t.
How does your hiring process compare? We’d love to hear your best tips on how to hire for Engagement. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured in an upcoming post!