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9 Essential Tips I've Learnt in the Hiring Process

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We’ve recently added to the (small) numbers of the MATTER family, and while looking for the right person to jump onboard as Community Catalyst, we came across some gems that we had to share.

1. Prescreen virtually

It saves so much time when you invest first in creating a Job Scope that not only details the works scope but also the attitude of the person you’re looking to join your team. For example, we put in that we’re looking for someone “passionate, humble and purposeful”.

Skype call or have a phone call first before having face to faces which can take up a lot of time. We received about 30 applications which we then culled to 15 which we called and Skyped. Finally, we interviewed 5 in person.

2. Let them surprise you with ideas 

Its wide knowledge that interviews don’t give a good or even mediocre measure of a candidate’s future performance. One way to mitigate this is to ask them to do a simple exercise in an area where you want to see their thinking process. For example, we asked our candidates to use Post Its to a) brainstorm about campaign and marketing ideas and b) layout the process for business development. 

3. Design creative incentives to uncover their motivation

Whether its a flexible work time that gives them freedom, a potted plant of their choice upon joining, free yoga classes or a personal mentoring growth plan, (all of which we list as our creative incentives here at MATTER HQ) - finding out what motivates and drives someone beyond their expected salary is a great way of both making you competitive as a company as well as figuring out what makes your candidate tick.

This article is one of the best I’ve found on hiring hacks.

4. Ask practical questions

What are the first things you would do in this job?

What would you need to succeed?

Asking about what they would do and need shows you their strategic thinking and how they would function in a workplace in the day to day, and beyond the theoretical explanation of their ‘strengths and weaknesses’; a popular but almost useless interview question unless you’re looking at non verbal cues in the answer.

This is a good guide as to which questions work.

5. Attitude over experience, culture over competition

One of the harder trade offs to make is in choosing someone who is terribly competent but seems like they may not get on with the rest of the team or even with you that well. While I am not in favour of hiring only yes (wo)men, its important that the person you hire embodies not only the culture but also the values you want for your company. 

6. Write everything down

A crucial but easy to dismiss point - after interviewing 5 people in a day you’re going to forget by tomorrow the conversations you had. I find that the most useful type of notes are not regarding just the content of what candidates said but the impressions and observations I made in meeting and listening to them. Needless to say, I am one of those who believe in first impressions.

7. Listen not just to what they say but how they say it

Even on the phone and on Skype, read verbal cues, watch their eyes, how they fidget or not, their gaze, tone of voice. What people don’t say is sometimes more powerful than what they do.

8. Keep the connection

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve read was to treat every potential hire like they were your customer. That said, I personally reply to reach and every CV submitted even if they don’t make the first round. Not only is this a pretty nice thing to do for someone who’s usually kept waiting, it’s also important because the people who have applied to you will also talk about you.

Especially for the ones who made it to your last round, they can usually be counted on for some part time work or ambassadorial work in the future. Who knows?

9. Have someone else talk to them

This is one of the best ways to get intel - I asked my intern to interview face to face all the other candidates that came in for this role. Because it was a surprise short conversation at the end of their interview they usually had their guard down and revealed a lot more than they did with me.

I currently have a friend interviewing for Apple who apparently has to go through 15 interviews, arranged in no particular order of hierarchy or importance. There is no such thing as rounds - once you make it through everyone has to go through 15 interviews from people you might report to, who might report to you or who you’d work with. There’s no wonder Apple has such a strong culture.

I love writing down quotes during interviews and not just notes because quotes of a conversation are like hooks that remind you of not just content, but your impressions of a person.

Can you guess which quote is from our newly hired Catalyst?

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