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Hiring? Ask Real Questions, Have Real Conversations, Stick with Your Team

Iron II
Iron II

It was my job to rebuild the IT department at my previous company. Writing a job description and fielding resumes on Indeed were the initial steps, followed by screening interviews. It was then time to really get to know the candidate(s). A thoughtful LinkedIn post showed up in my feed, which called out how unrealistic the hiring process can be. It's worth taking some time to check out. 

Here's what helped me build a strong team:

  • Focusing on skills and experiences that were in alignment with work we'd recently done or were about to do. It was counterproductive to allow boilerplate to get in the way of potentially finding someone who was the right fit. The candidate also receive a good feel for what's involved with the role and what it would be like working with you.
  • Borrowed from the LinkedIn post references above ... someone who has 4 years experience is close enough to 5 to be considered. Don't be dogmatic, or you could miss out on someone special. 
  • Have other people (even outside of your team) meet the candidate(s). There's a theory that people flock to similar personality types to their own. That's not always a good thing; diversity of thought is important.
    • Beyond that, why have more interviews, unless you need specific answers you didn't get before. My co-owner trusted me to make the right determinations and onboard the new employee in a way that helped them to succeed.
  • Taking time, when asked, to provide feedback to (serious) rejected candidates, who made it beyond the first call. Everyone deserves respect.

Your job isn't over after someone's been hired. A good manager builds a team that stays together.

  • Invest in your team to build their skills through certifications and learning how to do new things. I found community college courses that cost a fraction of corporate training for the same learning track.
  • Listen to feedback and be willing to make changes; provide an environment with psychological safety.
  • Keep your promises and don't promises anything that you can't deliver.
  • A NPS (Net Promoter Score) to pick up on things that could be done better. A solution could be as simple as having your IT admin leave the office more and walk the floor to meet people. It's important to build trust with your department.
  • Job reviews that are meaningful and set goals for career growth and how to achieve it.

Here's the hardest part to accept: some people just aren't a good fit. We like our colleagues; it's only human. My dad had some brutal but insightful advise that helped me in those situations, "They're all "good guys"." Someone who cares about people will cut employees slack, and always expects that kindness will be rewarded with good behavior. You can't make that assumption: document problems, days off, and other things that could end up being challenged (legally or otherwise) after someone leaves the company. It's rare, but it happens. Do not be caught unprepared.

You may also permit someone to overstay their welcome, out of kindness, which isn't good for your organization OR them.

My experiences may not align with yours, but I wish someone had sat me down to discuss these topics. Overall, one of the greatest accomplishments in my career was seeing team members grow and improve, both in and outside of the office. That's ideal. I've also dealt with disappointments and uncomfortable situations that lingered for far too long. Hiring well helps to preempt negative encounters.



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