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6 Tips to Improve Your Interview Process to Find Top Talent For Your Benchmark Business

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6 Tips to Improve Your Interview Process to Find Top Talent For Your Benchmark Business

One of the most common challenges for trades and construction business owners is to find top talent, which takes time away from working on important tasks that move the needle and drive growth.

Business isn’t personal, and the first step to overcoming this challenge is tough conversations with current team members about either improving or parting ways with you.

Then you’re in the position to hire new talent that fits the culture and expectations of your growing, benchmark business. Hiring to fill a position won’t do. You’ll land in the same place you are now, picking up after your team and parting with more cash.

Here are six tips on how to hire A-grade employees that will bring their best day in and day out and strive to be 1% better than they were yesterday.

1. Keep your company’s culture top of mind to find top talent

The first step to hiring the right people is to be clear about your company culture. If you want the best candidates, you have to show them why your business is the best fit for them. We’ve seen a significant shift in the hiring process, and the ball is in the candidates’ court, especially when businesses fight for the top 10% of talent.

It’s not enough to say, “We’re a fun company” or “We’re all about teamwork.” These statements should be narrower and give potential employees information about what it would be like for them if hired. Instead, get specific!

What does “teamwork” look like in practice? Do coworkers regularly help each other with projects and tasks, even if they aren’t directly related to their job functions? Are there regular meetings to discuss issues that affect the team as a whole, such as improving the customer service process?

Or do things tend toward independence—each person working on his tasks without much input from others—with very little collaboration between employees who aren’t part of a particular group/department/team?

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2. Mix up your interview process

There are a few ways to do this, and I highly recommend doing them if you’re conducting multiple interview rounds.

First, you can change the environment where you do the interview. It will help you understand how they may behave in your organisation. For example, how do you speak to the waiter if you go to lunch?

Secondly, change the people involved in the interview and selection process. Different people may pick up on other behaviours, attitudes, and experiences that can influence decision-making.

3. 70% skill / 30% behaviour 

As a rough guide, 70% of your hiring decisions should be based on a candidate’s skill and experience. The remaining 30% is their behaviour, which indicates how they will fit into your organisation.

Each employee is part of your company’s culture. The right fit with the existing team can make all the difference in their engagement, productivity and loyalty—and it’s essential to ensure they stay with your company for a long time.

How do you do this? Get references on the phone. Have a 20-minute conversation about the candidate’s behaviour with their current/past employer. Ask specific questions that don’t leave room for vague answers. Rather than asking: “What is Fred’s attitude like at work” ask: “Can you tell me about Fred’s reliability when meeting deadlines and targets?

4. Questions to ask

The questions you ask are important, so spend time considering what you want to know from a candidate. Here’s a handful of questions that provide excellent data points for decision-making.

  • What’s a problem you experienced in your current or previous role, and what could you have done differently to avoid this problem?
  • What’s one example of you leading a change in a business?
  • If it was your business, the one you work at right now, what would you do differently, and why?
  • What was a time when you disagreed with a decision made at work?

It is just a starting point. I typically have about 15 of these questions. The answers will give you insight into how they will fit into and make decisions in your business. You want people who will take the initiative and problem-solve on the spot, and these discussions should indicate if they can do that.

5. An exercise to use in interviews

If you’re in the third or fourth round of the recruiting stage, here’s a must-do exercise to help you determine whether you align with a candidate.

Sit them at a desk in a quiet room with a pen and a piece of paper. Give them 2 or 3 challenges they could face if they take on this role in your business, and leave them for 30 minutes to write up their ideas.

When the time is up, discuss the solutions they have come up with together. This exercise provides a great window into how this person’s contribution to your business will be felt and whether their working style fits with your current team members.

6. Always be on the lookout for candidates

Do you ever question why your business doesn’t attract the top talent other companies do? Chances are, they didn’t just happen across this fantastic candidate. Instead, they’re always on the lookout for new hires.

Network and introduce yourself to people at every opportunity you get. Then, when you have a position open, you have a pool of people to share it with.

Focus on getting it done right, not fast

If you want to shift your current team culture and attitude to one that supports the success of your growing business, speed will not be your friend. You might have to work harder to get it right now, but you will reap the rewards in the long term.

Remember, productivity is about the right people doing the right things right. There’s no such thing as a cheap hire, so make sure you put in the time.

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