Building Strong Teams – Part 1: The Hiring Process

Posted July 6th, 2011 in Productivity, Small Business Tips and tagged , by Darrell

As you build your business online, you have probably thought about how to improve the performance of the current team that you work with. Whether you have two employees or two hundred, this series aims to equip you with common sense but not necessarily common practice tools. This week, I will be blogging about the first step of building strong teams: the hiring process!

Part 1: The Hiring Process

Create detailed job postings: I have seen far too many job advertisements that have a total of 3 lines of detail in the posting. The more information you can put down about the job, the less work you have to do in weeding out unqualified candidates. This, in turn, saves you valuable time to focus on your business. As you consider posting for an opening in your company, be clear about:

  • The job duties. If it’s a generalist position, then be clear in the posting that it is so and list the varied duties. The more detail you put down, the more you will be able to interest good people who are on the fence about applying for your job. Otherwise, you depend on an applicant’s current paradigm about what it would be like to work for a clothing company or a trade business – this could deter you from finding the best candidate.
  • The job qualifications. Be clear about the educational background and past experience that is critical to the success of your applicant. You’ll be surprised at how many apply for managerial positions for which they either have no education or past experience. Awhile back, I consulted with a grocery store that had been looking for a Bakery Manager for almost a year. One of my first areas of investigation was the current job posting they had advertised. You would be shocked if I told you the percentage of people who applied to the role whose baking repertoire was only limited to their kitchen! The problem was that the ad simply said: “Bakery Manager wanted, send a resume to ABC Grocery store.” Instead, they should have made it clear that they were looking to hire someone with at least 3 years of experience in ordering supplies for a scratch bakery as well as managing a team of 6 or more. This would certainly have ruled out the wannabes from the true talent they were looking for.
  • The job remuneration. Although people will not admit it, one of the first things that applicants are looking for is how much they will be paid. If the salary meets their expectations, they are more likely to take it seriously. The reality is that most people end up taking the first job they know they can perform well in – at the rate that they believe they are worth. If you hold out salary information until the end of the interview process, you stand the risk of losing someone even though you may have been prepared to pay him or her more than your competitor! Also, if you have a generous benefits plan or anything that is unique or rare in your industry – put that on the posting!

Look for Competence, Character and Chemistry: Too many employers focus only on past experience or education. The problem with that approach is that it only hones in on one part of what it takes to have a successful team. To be sure, it’s vitally important to hear from a candidate about what they have done in the past, but it’s also useful to hear about what they would do in a hypothetical situation. Asking behavior based questions helps you to learn how the candidate problem solves and reacts under conditions that may be unique to your work environment. It also forces them to think outside the box a bit, as it’s quite easy to prepare well for the typical interview questions.

After you get a good sense for their competence, check in with a behavior based question that reflects a character value you uphold. For example, ask them what they would do if they saw a co-worker stealing, or if they witnessed an internal or external harassment issue. You will quickly get an idea if this person is the type of person you will not only enjoy working with (because of their competence), but their values will be personified through the way they answer character related questions.

Lastly, evaluate for chemistry. There may not be specific questions that you can use to consider the chemistry you may have with a potential employee but it’s a vital part of your working relationship. You could have someone who is of good character and delivers results consistently but if they root for a baseball team that you despise or you can’t imagine having an enjoyable conversation on Monday about the weekend, you may be best to move onto someone else you know that is easy to relate to. This personal connection will add dividends to your professional relationship in spades.

Invest in a background check. A recent study showed that 1 in 3 job applicants have included some form of dishonesty on their resume. This may seem like a shocking amount but this may not be surprising since 2 out of 3 people have been surveyed as having cheated for a test while in college. The fact is that most people who cheat sincerely believe that they can get away with it. I have conducted many background checks after I have interviewed successful candidates and it’s always disappointing to hear that the employment records were inaccurate or the educational qualification was fudged. The cost of training a new employee is exponential compared to the couple hundred dollars you can spend on a background check. A good background check can also reduce costs on employee theft, reduces employee turnover and creates a safe workplace environment for your team. Typical background checks will include:

  • Educational and employment history verification
  • Reference checks
  • Criminal record check (Theft and Violence)
  • Credit check.
  • Industry specific verifications like Driver Abstracts and Public Safety.

There are many reputable organizations that offer this service, but please verify the presence of certifications and memberships that are relevant to your state or province before you choose who will contract this work out to.

Darrell Lim is our Operations Manager at CityMax but he is also a trained organizational development coach. Find out more about him and get more business insights at his CityMax powered business website: www.oakmanagementconsulting.com.


  1. Lucas Says:

    I would try local places near your school first, they are probably more keen on hiring students. Then try craigslist and narrow the results down by part time only.

  2. Andrew A. Sailer Says:

    Thanks for an interesting post.

Leave a Reply

CityMax.com has been featured in...