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Which Employee Should I Hire?

What does your hiring process look like? Have you hired your best friend's dog walker's sister's buddy to do some work for you because they needed work? Did you very quickly figure out why that guy had no job?

What about family? Who among you has hired your brother-in-law? Didn't turn out so great did it?

Hiring "good people" can seem tricky. You look at resume after resume. You tirelessly follow up with references. You do a quick phone interview, and they sound nice. You bring in the top 15 and try to strain separate out the best of the best?

In the end, you might be puzzled as to who to hire. I know. I've been there, and it is not an easy decision.

Do you take a chance on them? How do you place your bet? Do you shop merely by a grocery list of technical or administrative requirements? If so, how do you know they will be good people?

When you finally get down to those few "good" candidates, how do you choose?

Then, came the epiphany. Lightning stuck my brain: you don't hire skill sets to fill positions. You hire people to fill positions, and oh... by the way... expect them to be able to do the job.

In addition to your criteria for the position, there are six vital considerations you should consider before hiring your next employee.

1. Vision

Which candidate's view of their future most closely matches the vision of my company / division / department?
It's important that the person who is on your team closely reflects how you envision your company. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Whoever has the most buy-in into your vision will be a better asset to your company. If one of them has no buy-in, that person will become a drain on the rest of your staff. Judgement of the vision alignment is very difficult to do on an objective basis, and must be done subjectively at first. In many cases, it could be a gut feeling. In some cases it will be obvious. If your company's vision is to end hunger world-wide, and the person that you are looking at bringing on to the team doesn't think it's possible, then they fail this test. If, however, they ask questions in an excited manner like "How are you doing that? How did you get started?" then this person has buy-in.

Buy-in is measured in observable positive emotional reaction to your vision.

2. Passion

Which candidate is more excited about the position?
Passion is completely subjective, and difficult to gauge, but you will know it when you see it. If you have to ask "Does this person have passion?"... they don't.

Passion is key. Whoever wants it more is probably willing to work for less money. While that is not meant to be a power play on your role as the employer, it is much better to have someone willing to do the same work for less money not so much so you can save that money (you should in fact,  pay this type of person more so you can keep them), but because that person has passion and would be doing it anyway. You can't buy passion, you can only throw money, love, and attention at it to hope it doesn't leave.

3. Discipline

Which one will work harder?
Hard workers are disciplined workers. They don't quit when the job gets hard, confusing or frustrated. These are easy to spot, if you just know where to look. Which candidate paid their own way through school? Which one waited tables at some dive, and lived on meager tips to put themselves through college or technical school? Which one has paid their dues? Which one REALLY understands the value of a dollar because they have had to work for every dollar they have ever had? That is your hard worker. They appreciate opportunity, and they will appreciate you. That is not to say that all silver spooners with Ivy League educations are not hard workers. Many are, but many also lack the perspective that a self-made, pull myself up by my own bootstraps kind of a background will instill in a person. You need the Ivy League educated people to be the leaders in your company, but a leader is nothing without a diligent backbone of hard workers who can actually execute what the silver spooner has dreamed up.

4. The Rocket

Which candidate has the greater potential to be worth more than I can pay them
Your company will succeed only as much as the people you hire succeed. It is much better to hold on to the tail of a rocket as it explodes into space than it is to try and push a mule towards the fields. Whichever candidate is the diamond in the rough? Grab that person. Cultivate them. Help them grow, and pray you can hold onto them as long as you can.

5. Need vs Want

Which one needs the job, and which one wants it?
If one candidate has a wife, two kids, and a dog, and the other candidate has a wife, two kids, a dog, and a giant house (i.e., giant mortgage), pick the one WITHOUT the giant mortgage. They say the debtor is the slave to the lender. Someone with many great debts will be a slave to their job. You don't want slaves. You want willful, happy, satisfied employees. Someone who is up to their eyeballs in debt makes ill considered decisions. If they do it in their personal life, they'll screw up your company too. Employers will often pull credit reports to check for low scores, charge-offs, and other ways a person has dug themselves in a financial hole by making poor decisions. Background checks, which are available from Intelius for $29, will also show public records such as court cases and criminal background checks, which will show if a candidate is in the habit of making bad decisions.

6. Hire for Wisdom

Which one is wise and which is a fool?
A wise employee will list of their mistakes and what they learned from them. They will always seek knowledge, and never be afraid to ask questions. Conversely, a foolish employee will live in fear, cover up mistakes, never seek your advice or counsel on matters, and ultimately cost you more money than they are worth. The wise one is the one who has made massive mistakes, and will cheerfully regale you with the stories...and how they ultimately fixed it.

Judging wisdom is like fishing. You cannot peer into the water and see all the fish, but if you fish where the birds are circling above the water, you'll get something on the hook. You don't make judgements about the "amount" of wisdom a candidate has. Instead, you look for the signs and symptoms of wisdom, which are obvious: they are eternally pursing knowledge and wisdom. These people have credentials, and a personal system of how they improve their leadership skills, technical skills, and other life skills.


These are a mere six ideas to ponder when you are considering making your next hire. It doesn't matter if this is your first hire, or your 400th hire. It will be important every time.

Always make sure that you invest in these people. Equip them to be successful in your company, and above all else enforce discipline in your company through your policies that fosters discipline and growth in your people. When you take care of them, they will take care of you. If you are not a benevolent boss, sooner or later it will backfire and cost you everything.

Comments (1)

Jenn PrenticeContent Manager

Great Article! Voted yes above and shared on Twitter! =)

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