« Loop Du Jour | Main | Total BS (Blog Statistics) »

January 30, 2006

The Art of Recruiting

Post_of_the_week
The art of recruiting is the purest form of evangelism because you're not simply asking people to try your product, buy your product, or partner with you. Instead, you are asking them to bet their lives on your organization. Can it get any scarier for them, and tougher for you, than this?

  1. Hire better than yourself. In the Macintosh Division, we had a saying, “A player hire A players; B players hire C players”--meaning that great people hire great people. On the other hand, mediocre people hire candidates who are not as good as they are, so they can feel superior to them. (If you start down this slippery slope, you'll soon end up with Z players; this is called The Bozo Explosion. It is followed by The Layoff.) I have come to believe that we were wrong--A players hire A+ players, not merely A players. It takes self-confidence and self-awarness, but it's the only way to build a great team.
  2. Hire infected people. Classically, organizations look for the “right” educational and professional backgrounds. I would add a third quality: Is the candidate infected with a love of your product? Because all the education and work experience in the world doesn't matter if the candidate doesn't “get it” and love it. On the other hand, an ex-jewelry schlepper like me can make it in technology if you're infected with a love of the product.
  3. Ignore the irrelevant. This is somewhat redundant with the prior point, but it merits repetition. Often a candidate's educational and work experience is relevant on paper but irrelevant in the real world. Would a senior vice-president from Microsoft with a PhD in computer science be an ideal employee of a startup? Not necessarily--this poor guy has been working for a company with $60 billion in cash and 95% market share, and he woke up every day not worried about the competition or customers but the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. The flip side is also true: the candidate--using a jewelry analogy-- without the “perfect” background could be the diamond in the rough.
  4. Double check your intuition. Everyone has stories about the candidate that they “knew” would work out who turned out to be a nightmare employee. Or the employee they “knew” wouldn't work out despite a lack of qualifications who turned out to be the employee of the decade. The problem with intuition is that people only remember when their intuition was right--truth be told, their intuition was probably wrong as often as right. My recommendation is that you ask every candidate the same questions and take extensive notes. You might even conduct the first interview by telephone so you cannot judge the candidates by their appearance. In particular, startup founders believe they have a good “gut feel” for candidates, so they conduct unstructured interviews that are way too subjective, and they end up with lousy hires.
  5. Check independent references. How many of us have limited reference checking to only those provided by the candidate? I know I have. Can we be more stupid than this? This often happens because we don't double check our intuition: we like the gal, so we only call the references she's provided because we don't want to hear that we like a bozo. Do as I say, not as I did: check independent references--preferably at least one person that she worked for and one person that worked for her.
  6. Apply the Shopping Center Test. As the last step in the recruiting process, apply the Shopping Center Test. It works like this: Suppose you're at a shopping center, and you see the candidate. He is fifty feet away and has not seen you. You have three choices: (1) beeline it over to him and say hello; (2) say to yourself, “This shopping center isn't that big; if I bump into him, then I'll say hello, if not, that's okay too;” (3) get in your car and go to another shopping center. My contention is that unless the candidate elicits the first response, you shouldn't hire him.
  7. Use all your weapons. Once you've found the perfect candidate, use all the weapons at your disposal to land her--not just salary and options. More important--and more telling--is the attractiveness of your vision for how you'll change the world and the other employees (who doesn't like to work with smart people who are kicking butt?). To this armory, add your board of directors and advisors who should use their sway to sign her up. And finally, throw in the resume-building potential of working for a great organization like yours (let's not be naive, here). Once you decide you want a person, pull out all stops and go with shock and awe to land her.
  8. Sell all the decision makers. A candidate seldom makes a decision all by herself. There can be several other people contributing to the decision. The obvious ones are spouses and significant others, but it can also be kids, colleagues, and friends. With Asian Americans, it can even be parents because Asian Americans are perpetually trying to make their parents happy. In the interviews, simply ask, “Who is helping you make this decision?” And then see if you can make them happy too.
  9. Wait to compensate. A common mistake that many organizations make is using an offer letter as the starting point for negotiation. This is very risky because you don't know what reaction this first data point is going to have. If the candidate is Asian American, for example, she might show it to her mother; her mother might be offended by your lowball offer and then tell the candidate to forget your organization because it's dishonored your family. A offer letter confirms what everyone has agreed upon. It is the last step in negotiations, not the first one.
  10. Don't assume you're done. Garage once recruited an investment banker (mea culpa #1) from a large (mea culpa #2) firm. After weeks of wooing and several offers and counter offers, he accepted a position with us. He even worked for us for a few days, and then he called in sick. Late the next night, he sent me an email saying that he had accepted an offer from a former client of his old investment bank. I learned a valuable lesson: never assume that your recruiting is done. Frankly, you should recruit every employee every day because when they go home at night, you might never see them again if you don't keep the lovin' going.

Addendum:

Here's a great article called “25 words that hurt your resume.” I found it because this site had a trackback to this blog entry.

Written at: Benihanas, Cupertino, California

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c527353ef00d83426399653ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Art of Recruiting:

» How to hire the exceptional from the brand builder
"The art of recruiting is the purest form of evangelism because you're not simply asking people to try your product, buy your product, or partner with you. Instead, you are asking them to bet their lives on your organization." Bingo. [Read More]

» Tuesday, January 31, 2006 11:14 PM from Critical Section
Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Recruiting. Great stuff. I particularly liked the shopping center test: "Suppose you're at a shopping center, and you see the candidate. He is fifty feet away and has not seen you. You have three choices: (1) beeline it... [Read More]

» The Art of Recruiting from life of a dred nerd
Wow! The Art of Recruiting was a great article by Guy Kawasaki, a man who knows what he's talking about. This is very applicable to my business. I got three key points from this which some of my mentors in my business have been teaching me as well. ... [Read More]

» Hire better than yourself from vowe dot net
Guy Kawasaki states the obvious: In the Macintosh Division, we had a saying, "A player hire A players; B players hire C players" -- meaning that great people hire great people. On the other hand, mediocre people hire candidates who are not as good as t... [Read More]

» The Bozo Explosion from Chausse.org Weblog
I learned a great new term today from Guy Kawasaki - the Bozo Explosion.  Its a staffing problem that stems initially from not having great employees. Great employees (call them A employees) arent intimidated ... [Read More]

» The Art of Recruiting from Startup Fever
Guy Kawasaki on the the art of recruiting: The art of recruiting is the purest form of evangelism because youre not simply asking people to try your product, buy your product, or partner with you. Instead, you are asking them to bet their live... [Read More]

» The Art of Recruiting from H.R.eSources
Guy Kawasaki elaborates on some steps to gaining and retaining quality employees. I have been recruiting, in one capacity or another, for a long time. I have ignored some of these... [Read More]

» The Art of Recruiting from Business Opportunities Weblog
Guy Kawasaski: The art of recruiting is the purest form of evangelism because youre not simply asking people to try your product, buy your product, or partner with you. Instead, you are asking them to bet their lives on your organization. via ... [Read More]

» Baby Steps from Jumping on the Bandwagon
So I've spruced the place up a bit. It still looks a cross between starving actor and cash poor student, but it will do for now. Pull up an orange crate and let's talk business. At this time I'm currently [Read More]

» Kawasaki on Recruiting from Recruiting.com
By Anthony J. Guy Kawasaki is a famous blogger. Well he must be because I see him linked to by tons of people via del.icio.us and digg and the like. Guy has an interesting post up about hiring that has some excellent points. You should read the whole ... [Read More]

» Posting of the Week: Prize 1 of 2 from Recruiting.com
Kawasaki lets the good times roll Controversy dogs Recruit blogging award Working on this contest, I've realized that it takes the wisdom of Solomon to be a judge. For instance, what do you do if a blog merely acts as a pointer to someone else's postin... [Read More]

» Accounts from iphoting's Blog
Results this Friday, what a thrill. Another shocking thing that I've learnt this morning was that my school fees for the first two month was due: $900. Two things came into my mind. Firstly, screw up in the accounts department. Secondly, there went my [Read More]

» Recruiting - Beware of the Intuition Influencers from BizImpresario
Check your intuition at the door when recruiting, it's possible someone is praying on your ignorace, or kindness, or laziness. [Read More]

» How to Hire 'Infected' People from GoodRecruits
Guy Kawasaki explains that a part of The Art of Recruiting is to hire infected people--that is, people who love your business and your products... people that you don't hav... [Read More]

» Can they thrive in your start-up environment? from The Ineo Group LLC
I’m going to devote a space on the blog each Monday to hiring- always a key factor in any start-up. Today, I’m going to focus on what I think is the critical question when hiring a new employee for [Read More]

» Nine Questions to Ask a Startup from Futurelab's Blog
by: Guy Kawasaki Most of the information that you can find about recruiting is for the employer, not the employee. (I'm as guilty as this as anyone: for example, The Art of Recruiting, I and II.) Let's turn the... [Read More]

» The Art of Recruitingby Guy Kawasaki from Recruitment Views
Apart from finding Guys article on The Art of Recruiting very refreshing I found it to be very accurate in regards to recruitment of employees. For myself I have always believed in recruiting better than yourself, I believe it is sound advice... [Read More]

» Good Reading for Development Managers from Life of a Software Program Manager
[Read More]

» Tramadol discussion. from Cheapest tramadol.
Rxmedsasap com purchase tramadol. Tramadol. Tramadol 50mg. [Read More]

» Milf sex. from Milf sex.
Milf sex. [Read More]

» Medlineplus drug information carisoprodol. from Carisoprodol.
Carisoprodol pharmacy. Carisoprodol fedex cod. Carisoprodol. Buy carisoprodol online lowest price guarantee. [Read More]

» Tramadol. from Tramadol.
Tramadol shipped to florida. Tramadol fda. Tramadol. What is tramadol. [Read More]

» Adipex phentermine vs. from Rx adipex.
Buy adipex now. Buy adipex. Rx adipex. Adipex phentermine vs. Adipex results. Adipex without a prescription. Adipex-p tennessee. Adipex great buy. Adipex phentermine. [Read More]

» Review adipex. from Adipex generic.
Phentermine adipex. Adipex overnight. Adipex. [Read More]

Comments

Here's some advice. I learned the hard way. These days, with people jumping jobs all the time, you may have a candidate that says they can't track down people from their past jobs. Don't screw up and blow it off, even if you are just hiring a "low-level" position. If you can't produce a list of good references, duh, there's probably a good reason for it. How many stellar people do you know that have no one on the planet that will rave about them?? Regardless of corporate policies against references.

One thing I always used to do in interviewing for my team was say something blatantly incorrect to see if the interviewee would tell me I was wrong.

The last thing a team needs is "yes men".

Raza,

Not sure what Guy's response will be, but I would argue that it's even more critical for passion to exist with a startup. The new hire may not see a product yet, but surely they can catch the vision of the startup's C.A.U.S.E. (ref to "Selling the Dream").

I recently jumped from a Fortune 100 company to an accessible voting startup, and didn't need to know squat about the product. The boss convinced me of the worthiness of the vision he has for meeting the needs of the market.

Also, don't mistake "product" for being what sits on the shelf. The product IS the startup. If you can't sell a new hire on its cause, the startup is probably already doomed--It's a sign that you haven't sold yourself.

Tim

"Check independent references"

Counterpoint for job seekers: Your references aren't something you put on your resume, your references are your resume.

I'd be interested in the interview questions. Good post with good insight. Recruiting is certainly important, so it's important to do it right, otherwise your product may not turn out nearly as good as you expected.

Sub bukwas hi

Guy,

I'd love to hear more details about interviewing. How do you choose the questions? How long is a good interview? How do combine selling the job with checking out the prospective hire? etc.

I would add one more point: hire thankful people. That is hire people that have a hard time getting a job, not because of their lack of skill, but e.g. because of cultural intolerance of other employers. If you are the first one to show them their own true potential, they will do everything for you in return.

Andreas.

Guy,
Regarding your 2nd point.
Quite often I have seen that the "right" education and professional background information hides the individual attributes of a person -- especially those attributes required at leadership positions. E.g. someone from a "Top" Univ with work-ex at "Top-line" organizations may have developed an insane level of arrogance and egotism.
Sometimes people get lucky with a string of CV and Univ eassy lies and then with all that "right" educational and work-ex backgrounds they become organization destroyers -- who hire yes-men, play petty politics, and kill morale of useful people in the organization.
Ujwal
http://ujwaltickoo.wordpress.com

Guy,

I've realized that it's much better to print your posts like this and to read them - because they are much more like "Chapters" from the book than blog posts.

Thanks, you are writing really interesting and useful things!

Guy,

Step 3 might be less relevant for an early startup since the products might not be that well known for people to be infected with it and it might have even less relevance for startups offering consulting services.

what do you think ?

I wrote a post about the method and steps my company takes to this same end...
http://www.mikelandman.com/mikelandman/2005/12/yessir_its_peop.html

Good Blog. Although I to use the translation of google to read

Thanks for the post. The thing that was revealing to me when I thought about it was: even companies that are good at hiring often focus only on the first 6 tips you've discussed above. 7 through 10 are ignored.

Most recruiters forget: they are trying to hire as well as sell. Further, and unfortunately, following up on a great hire is often left to the HR department - rather than the interviewer following up personally.

My tip to add to this list: make the interviewer(s) responsible to sell the job, hire the candidate and follow up to start-off the candidate within the company.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Contact Me

  • bar.gif


VisualCV


Search this blog

Alltop

  • Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

Advertising

Feed and Leads

Categories

Alignment of Interests

  • Alltop
    Stay on top of all the news topics.
  • BagTheWeb
    Find, bag, and share websites and articles.
  • Doba
    Drop-ship products for ecommerce sales.
  • Garage Technology Ventures
    Raise venture capital for your tech company.
  • Paper.li
    Publish social-media newspapers.
  • Statusnet
    Make an Open-Source Twitter for your organization.
  • Peerspin
    Pimp your MySpace pages.
  • Sixense
    Control your game like never before.
  • SocialToo
    Engage people at social media sites like Twitter.
  • StumbleUpon
    Find interesting stuff on the web.
  • TicketLeap
    Sell and manage online ticket sales for events.
  • Triggit
    Make real-time bids for online ad space.
  • DataSift
    Analyze big data from social media.
  • Tynt
    Trace who's using your website content.
  • uStream
    Stream video live.
  • Visible Measures
    Monitor how people interact with online video.
  • Writer.ly
    Find freelancers for book projects.
  • XAT
    Chat with people.

Optimization

  • quick sprout