Basically I need to be 100% positive that the person I'm hiring is going to succeed in the role. This means four things:
1) I need to know exactly what kind of success I'm looking for from the role I'm trying to fill. (I'm pretty good about this)
2) The candidate needs to demonstrate that they want the role. (50-50 on this one. They often don't take enough time to understand the position)
3) The candidate needs to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that they can deliver success in the role. (This is the really hard part)
4) We have to agree on compensation and other work arrangements. (This usually works out fine)
I follow a specific process for every role we recruit for. It starts off by writing up a very firm description of what success in the role looks like (this is called the "Scorecard" and it is the document I use to evaluate the person's performance during every performance review). Then I write up a job description that I believe will attract the right types of candidates and advertise that up online and through as many of our networks as I can. Then we evaluate all of the applicants and score them against their likelihood of being able to deliver the success (at early stages it's pretty high level, but once we move into interview stages then it gets really detailed). During the interview stage I ask multiple people to interview each candidate and each of them to ask about specific things we need to learn about to get as close as possible to 100% confidence in the decision (this gets customized for each role and each person and I'm happy to share more about that if you think it would be helpful). If we get to 100% confidence then we make an offer and try to convince the candidate to join our team.
If I'm only 75% or 85% sure that someone is going to deliver success, that's not good enough and I'll be forced to decline the candidate and keep searching. The reason is that if I'm not hiring the right person for the right role at the right time, then that person will inevitably fail to bring success, which means that either they will leave or I will be forced to ask them to leave. For example if I make a mistake and hire the wrong person for a designer role to deliver some set of really awesome features for the site, it could easily take a couple of months to know that it's not a fit, which means that the awesome features we want to build are now delayed by several months, we have less money than we had before, and the time that I spent on coaching / guiding / recruiting the designer did not yield. That's super costly for any manager, whether you're in a small nonprofit org like CareerVillage.org or in a large multinational company. The costs of a "false positive" (incorrectly hiring someone who can't deliver success) faaaaaar outweigh the costs of a "false negative" (failing to hire someone who can deliver success). Honestly, I hate that this works this way because I think it's a hidden part of why social mobility in America is broken. One of the ways I've been trying to tackle that problem is to be really specific about what types of success are absolutely required, and what types of success are nice to have but not necessarily required. That allows me to make sure that I can still take some calculated risks on people who might not check every box but do check the "must have" success boxes.
The hardest part is doing this without wasting the candidate's time. That means it all has to happen very very fast, which I believe is good for everyone. Interviewing with us usually takes a couple of hours, and we have to be very respectful of the investment the candidate is making to get to know us and try out for the position. It's a big deal so we try to use as little of their time as possible to make a good decision for everyone.
Some specific things I look for when recruiting for CareerVillage.org
- All of the skill-will fit things above.
- Insanely passionate about our mission and our community. You have to be able to convince me that you're not just looking for any job. (Why does this matter? Because when the going gets rough and I really need to rely on your, having a strong passion for the mission and community is what will keep you going)
- Being here in Silicon Valley. Although this may change someday, while we're so small (just a couple people on staff), it's super important for us to all be co-located together in our office here in California.
- Style fit. Things like enthusiasm, do-anything attitude, autodidactic, very professional, good at tackling complex problems, very very tech savvy etc. For me personally, these are things I picked up in my first job out of school (I worked as a business consultant at a company called McKinsey & Co. and was influenced greatly by their culture which I really enjoyed)
I'm sure there's more I could share. Your question sounds simple, but the challenge is significant so the answer is complex. As Blaise Pascal said sorry this is such a long letter -- I didn't have time to write a shorter one :)
p.s. if you would like to see the roles we are recruiting for or apply for one of them you can go here.
SOURCE: I'm the Executive Director of CareerVillage.org so I'm involved in all hiring here.