3 Ways to Hire Based on More Than a Gut Feeling

3 Ways to Hire Based on More Than a Gut Feeling

You are looking to hire, but you keep meeting duds. Their qualifications seem good on paper, but you can’t seem to click with any of them. They just don’t have that spark. How are you supposed to spend all day with someone who just seems…a little boring?

Enter Tim. Tim is a referral from an ex-coworker’s cousin. He is everything you want in an employee and a friend. He went to the same college as you, he really gets your sense of humor, and things just seem so easy with Tim. He doesn’t have a ton of experience, but you can train him! You know he is the right fit, even without going through all those interview questions you prepared for the other candidates. You didn’t have him do the skills assessment, and the personality profile you coveted doesn’t seem so important now. No need to check references, because he was a referral (you already know people love him). You offer him the job, because your gut is telling you it’s the right thing to do.

Your gut may not have steered you wrong in the past with other business decisions. However, it is important to remember that you are not an expert hiring manager, especially if this is your first hire! Your gut is inexperienced in this arena. It cannot be the sole guide for screening candidates. Remember, the interview process is about collecting data points and assessing them to see if a candidate is the right fit for your firm. You need to have all of the information in front of you before listening to your gut’s emotional input. Someone like Tim may seem perfect, but hiring him without proper vetting could be a huge mistake.

For example, does Tim have the ability and drive to pass his Series 7 or 63? Even if he has a good educational background, that doesn’t mean he is dedicated enough to put in the study time needed to pass. Does he have experience learning new technology, a new industry? What about training: how much time will you need to dedicate to training Tim and what will that mean to your business? Will he get along with your team and respect them? These questions must be answered before extending an offer.

Follow these steps to make sure you do not make a rash decision that will cost you time, money, and possibly even client relationships.

Step 1: Start with the job description

Successful hiring starts with the job description. Build your task list by thinking about the things you do not like to do, are not very good at doing, or are functions that your business needs help with. If you hire the right individual, these items will no longer be on your to-do list! When reviewing applicants, compare them against this description. Do they have the basic skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to positively affect your firm? Focus on the essentials of the job, and meet with candidates who have the experience to perform the responsibilities.

Step 2: Stick to the plan

During the interview, do not let your gut tell you to skip questions. You should have a well-defined plan for what you want to get out of the interview, and do not deviate. Again, making a successful hire is dependent on collecting a set of data points and using them to make the best possible decision. You wouldn’t pick an investment for a client based on your gut, would you? Therefore, if you happen to find a Tim (who could be your future best friend), you still need to complete the full interview process.

Here are some general situational questions you should always ask:

  • What is the accomplishment you are most proud of and why?
  • What do you do if you disagree with your boss?
  • Where would you like to be with your career in 3 to 5 years?
  • What are the three most important criteria to you in your next position?
  • What would your current/former manager say about you?

In addition to these, ask specific questions regarding the role and the responsibilities. In the Tim example, he did not have a lot of exposure to the financial services industry. Can he show in his previous work experience a time when he learned a new computer system and mastered it? Does he have 2 or 3 examples of when he went above and beyond for a customer? Does he have success stories demonstrating his multi-tasking abilities? If you are satisfied with the answers, complete the rest of your interview process.

If you have other members on your team, decide who else should be involved in the hiring process. Finding the right hire is also about the candidate’s DNA matching your office DNA. Others in the office can help you assess this and ensure that the candidate will add to the synergy in the office, not deteriorate it.

Some advisors also use a personality profile or skills assessment, and references should always be checked. If the results are not what you hoped for, use them as data points to decide if you can and/or want to manage this individual, given what you found out. However, no one is perfect; remember that the overall data is more important than one concerning result.

Step 3: Evaluate why they are the best fit for the job

The Tim interview went well because you were excited to meet someone you liked as a friend. The bonding overshadowed the rest of the interview process. Remember, you aren’t looking for a mini-me! You are looking for a good employee. Review all of the information you learned about them, and take a hard look at anything that worried you. Be open to hiring employees who have different strengths than you; this could mean they have different personalities. If you are extroverted and love meeting with new clients, consider hiring someone who is more introverted, calculated, and operationally-minded. He or she could bring a degree of organization and strategy to your practice that you had not considered.

Listen to your gut, but don’t obey it

If the decision to hire someone is made just because you two get along, this is probably not going to work out. Do not lose sight as to why you needed to hire someone in the first place. If you can joke around but find out you cannot trust your new hire to get things done, the relationship will not last long. They must be capable of completing the tasks you need help with. Otherwise, they will be a drain on you and your resources. Finding the right employee is about a full assessment of skills, qualifications, personality, and their long-term goals. When these match up and your gut can quietly agree, you have found your future employee!

Amy Kizer
Human Capital
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Amy Kizer is Managing Partner of TalentLink Solutions, which was created because of the challenges financial advisors face with defining, identifying, retaining and manag ... Click for full bio

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

Written by: Jon Sabes

When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward. 

However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:

  • He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
  • He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
  • When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
  • While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
  • In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.

Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.

Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.

Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.

His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”

When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”

On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.

“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”

That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing.  Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.

Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”

When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it.  He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.

I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.

GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
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GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio