Tech consulting companies are outdoing themselves today, trying to hire the best talent available.
What we do tend to forget at times is that it isn’t just talent that goes into building a great team. You cannot put a bunch of extremely talented people in the same room and always expect to end up with team members who work brilliantly well, together.
I’ve worked on a number of software development teams and I’ve come to observe that some teams click, almost fluidly, and some just don’t.
So what makes certain teams better than others?
8 Steps to Hiring the Perfect Employee
By better, I mean that every team member wakes up in the morning and actually wants to go to work; every team member is excited to put in his 100% at the workplace.
It is understandable that this may seem like the most trivial of things but it isn’t. The level of cohesion within a team directly affects how every team member works. And this, in turn, affects the product/service that the team, as a whole, is trying to build.
By creating an environment of happy, productive people, you end up having other happy, productive people want to join your organization. In effect, you have a recruiting advantage over your competitors and I needn’t tell you just how important this is.
Here are a few things I’ve found to work rather well for us as steps to hiring the perfect employee for the job.
1. Are they a good fit for the company’s culture?
What’s your organizational culture?
If you haven’t identified this yet, then perhaps this is where you should start.
Hiring should be team-based and not on a person-to-person basis. In every interview you conduct, you need to assess whether the presence of this person will make the rest of your team less happy.
If so, then it’s a definite no-go.
Having an HR lead who understands company culture is vital. Most people look at HR as a support process that’s usually required for performing peripheral operations like scheduling meetings and sending out salary slips. It’s actually a lot more than that.
So maybe you will end up having to make some very difficult decisions in the recruitment process, but understand that an alternate decision made at the cost of team happiness/productivity is not worth it in the long run.
2. Do they increase team quality?
Every new addition to your team has to increase the quality of the team in some way or the other. By increasing team quality with every new hire, you basically set the bar higher for the kind of people you want in your team.
Now, this quality may be in terms of technical prowess, ability to converse with clients, setting an example for hard work or even something as simple as being capable of boosting team morale on a bad day.
“The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” – Steve Jobs
3. Always Plan ahead for hiring
Plan ahead in terms of project requirements, and actual cash flow.
Do not leave hiring to the last minute because you could end up with someone who’s not a right fit for the team. Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure you can account for every person you hire, in terms of salary and project allocation.
4. Don’t hire unless it’s absolutely necessary
Don’t hire till you absolutely cannot do without a specific skill. Have people cross function and understand what skill sets you are missing out on. This will help hire better people because you have a better understanding of the requirements.
Additionally, don’t hire someone to fill a temporary need. We recently lost our iOS engineer in the middle of an ongoing project.
Now this could have sent us into a hiring frenzy, but it didn’t. Hiring someone, based on an immediate temporary need could lead to wrong recruiting decisions. And it’s a bit of an insult to the person you hire as well.
5. Team up with recruitment consultants
Don’t always look at recruitment companies as spammers.
Some of them, out there, work in very niche fields and have an understanding of the business requirements for specific domains. Find ways to tie up with them, and they’ll definitely be able to aid you in hiring the perfect employee.
6. Hire people who are eager to improve
There is no end to learning, especially in the tech world. So hiring the perfect employee involves hiring individuals who are constantly looking to better themselves.
Fostering an environment of learning, that involves mentors and mentees, makes up for a comfortable relaxed environment in which people are not just ready to learn new things but also learn from others who have better experience in a certain area.
This is beneficial because your team becomes self-sufficient in a way that employees are unafraid to admit when they don’t know something and also don’t feel a loss of ego if they have to acquire knowledge from a peer.
“As a business owner or manager, you know that hiring the wrong person is the most costly mistake you can make.” – Brian Tracy
7. Don’t judge a book by its cover
We once hired a person who had a resume that was just half a page long. But it turned out that he was the man behind one of the fastest search engines for a travel website in the country.
He’s still with us and is one of our most remarkable employees. On the other hand, a person might have a killer resume, but is not actually exceptional otherwise. And always, always beware of smooth talkers.
Always check references of a smooth talker.
During the interview, make it a point to find out what the potential candidate is motivated by and throw a directed challenge at her to figure out if she’s capable of handling it. Try and find out if her motivations align with your business values.
The point is, dig deeper. Find out what added value the person brings and use this to your advantage. You won’t regret it.
8. Find the correct balance
Naturally, no two people are the same and it’s necessary to accept and appreciate this. Understand the value of every person you hire and attach importance to the specific value they bring to the team.
Acknowledging the uniqueness of every single employee should be balanced with their willingness to get along with others and it’s this balance that will ensure ultimate success of the team, and eventual success of the business. Employees are not resources.
They’re people and every single one of them is unique and unpredictable, which is exactly why you need them.
Let me end this with a bit from The Economics of Superstars. Rosen states that there are certain industries in which a few individuals govern the influx of money and hence are more important as opposed to other employees.
These individuals may sometimes be only marginally more talented than others in the organization but because they have what it takes to bring in money, they end up benefiting enormously, both in terms of money as well as the degree of importance within the organization itself.
In the software industry and other industries in which strong teams matter more than singular people, this would not hold true.
“Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?” – Thomas John Watson Sr.
It is a killer team that is going to bring in money simply because working together matters more than working alone.
The person you’re looking to hire could be a tech rockstar but if he is incapable of working well with the people in your team, your business could suffer and that’s an outcome you should look to actively avoid.