One of the most important things a leader can do is to hire talent. New hires, if chosen well, can infuse the organization with original ideas, fresh perspectives, and cutting-edge skills. They can help you refresh old ways of doing things and create new approaches to accomplishing work. In many ways, they can represent new beginnings.
But how can you make sure you are hiring not only the most qualified candidate for the job, but the very best person to complement your team? This question has been top of mind for me in the last couple weeks as I’ve been interviewing candidates for a vital role on our Talent Management team.
Of course, it’s important to create an accurate job description and a position posting that attracts talented applicants. It’s also essential to conduct interview processes that reveal applicants’ skill sets and strengths. In addition doing those things, I’ve been mulling over some of the best hiring advice I’ve encountered in my career.
When I was hiring my first supervisory training director at Minnesota State 12 years ago, the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources at the time gave me a sage piece of advice. He smiled and simply said: “Anita, hire someone smarter than you are.” After hearing that, I had two thoughts. The first thought was ….of course, I want to hire the very best person for the job. And the second was ….hmmm, that can take a lot of confidence AND humility to hire people who are smarter than you.
The late Steve Jobs believed that hiring was the most important thing he ever did. He managed all the hiring for his team and never delegated it, personally interviewing over 5,000 applicants in his career. I’ve admired this particular piece of advice he’s shared on hiring and leadership: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Another of my favorite hiring insights comes from Warren Buffett, who said, “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” When you think about it, it really is true. Integrity is paramount when building your team.
Do you have a piece of favorite hiring advice? What has helped you to hire the very best talent?