Finding a person to fill a job is easy. Finding the right person for your company is another story. Much like a puzzle piece fits into its place, you must identify both the puzzle and the missing spot you are attempting to fill before you go about locating the piece.
At Anonyome Labs, we see this as a three step process. To find the proper fit for your position, your team, and for your company (all of which should get the proper consideration), you must begin this process long before you create the job description or even request headcount:
First, the puzzle. You must decide as a company, or as a team, what it is that you are trying to accomplish. What puzzle are you trying to put together? What is the picture supposed to look like? What is it that matters to you as a company? We simply call it “Stuff that Matters.” And we have seven of them. Simple qualities and ways of thinking that serve as guideposts as we make decisions both big and small within the company.
Quite possibly the most important decisions we make as a company are hiring decisions. Pieces of the puzzle that we choose along the way that either fit into the empty places in the puzzle and contribute to its progression or don’t and serve as a deterrent to success. Identifying the “Stuff That Matters” to you as a company and hiring against that formula is the key to finding pieces of the puzzle you need for success. Without it, you are just picking up pieces that may or may not fit. That can be costly in many ways: wasting opportunity cost, declining morale, and backtracking instead of moving forward. Getting hiring wrong can set you back at least six months … and in the startup world, this can be the difference between success and lights out.
Second, the empty space. Take the time to identify the place in the puzzle that you are trying to fill. First of all, do you really need that piece? Hiring is costly. Think about not only the expense of the person, but the time to fill, interview, and train. These are significant distractions from everyone’s “day job.” Be stingy and only hire for positions that help complete the puzzle. What skills are necessary? Does location matter? Thoroughly determine the shape of the empty space and make sure everyone involved in the hiring process understands exactly what you are looking for.
Third, the piece. Armed with your list of skills and your “Stuff that Matters,” go out and find that missing piece. Be patient and relentless in your pursuit. Treat each hire as an adoption. Remember that everyone can interview well just like they can look good on a first date. It can sometimes be the fourth and fifth look that show a person’s true identity. Someone who seems to have all of the skills in your required list of skills but who does not score well on your list of “Stuff that Matters” will ultimately not be a good fit for your puzzle.
Time spent in the hiring process will ultimately pay for itself as you see increased productivity, team alignment, and employee retention. For us, this means multiple interviews, single and team interviews, having the candidate present to a group, stretching the candidate a little with interesting questions or unplanned personality tests. Anything that helps us break through the “interview veneer.”
Remember to identify the puzzle, determine the shape of the empty space, and then find the missing piece. Focus on the “Stuff That Matters” specific to your company and what you are trying to accomplish. Align your company around these things, and the pieces will fall right into place.
Cristal Kelshaw has over 18 years of experience in finance, operations, customer support, and human resources with start-up companies including roles at Smile Reminder, C7 Data Centers, Smart Bomb Interactive, Helius, PointeCast, Traxess, and Solera Networks. She has been with Anonyome Labs since its inception in June of 2014 and is currently their Head of People, Culture & Operations.