Ask Yourself This Before You Make Your Next Hire…

Ben Gateley, CharlieHR’s Co-Founder & COO, on why it’s no secret that he considers people to be the most important part of any organisation.

The average working adult spends around 36% of their week at the office, which doesn’t sound like much until you factor in the effort of making small-talk with someone you can barely tolerate for 8 hours a day. Personally, in as far as I am able to influence these things, I’d rather spend my time on this planet in the company of people I’m inspired, challenged and amused by. In short: people I like.

With this simple goal in mind, I am continuously struck by how bloody hard hiring great people actually is. No one expects it to be a science — and there’s no algorithm or set of rules that can replace your knowledge of your company ecosystem, or even your gut feeling — but it sometimes can feel as though every single time there’s as much chance of getting it wrong as getting it right.

Over the last five years, and particularly since the launch of CharlieHR, I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about the hiring process. I’ve found that for me the essential question to answer is often not which candidate, but actually working out what the role is and when you really need it.

Working Out What

Throwing out a random job title in the hope that it will cover your needs is the fastest path to suddenly finding yourself with a “Head of Integrated Community Realisation and Alignment Strategy” who spends all day scrolling Twitter and silently screaming in the toilets.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve ballsed this up plenty of times, but in figuring out what the role is I now try think in reverse. Identify a realistic, achievable outcome and work backwards from that.

  1. What is the result that I am actually looking for from this role?
  • Increased sales?
  • Happier customers?
  • A clean office?

I focus myself by asking, “if they could only achieve one thing, what would that be?”.

  1. Could a comparable result possibly be delivered by someone else internally? What changes would need to happen for us not to need to hire externally for this role?

Once I’ve established what I’m trying to achieve — and tested to see if it could be delivered without having to hire — I’ll label the skill sets that I believe are required in order for someone to reach that result. Finally, I’ll profile my ideal hire by thinking of people I already know who would tick those boxes, so I have a realistic benchmark to start from.

Working Out When

Hire too early and you’ll have a bored team member on your hands; hire too late and the mountain you’re asking them to climb might feel too daunting to handle alone.

I try and ask myself the question “if I asked them to start tomorrow would there be enough for them to do?” If there’s any doubt in my mind, that usually means it’s too early.

While it’s not always an option, I like to try and do some of the role myself before starting the hiring process. This is the best way I’ve found to gain insight into what the role actually requires, and how much time it should take up. Obviously this is dependent on your skill set (I’d love to imagine that I could be a Ruby on Rails developer for a day, but realistically I sometimes get lost on the way to updating my iOS).

In Conclusion…

We’ve learned the hard way (and more than once…) that getting a hire wrong negatively affects you, your team, and the person you ultimately have to let go. In a company like CharlieHR where culture and momentum are the most important things, taking the time to let the what and when inform the who is the best (free) investment in a hire that you can make.

Neo Sepulveda

Neo Sepulveda

Software engineer at CharlieHR 💻. I like climbing things quite a bit 🐒.

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