Two of the most frequently-asked questions I get are:
1️⃣ Who should I hire next?
2️⃣ How can I find someone who is aligned with the values of my business?
This post answers the second question – and includes an outline of my recommending hiring funnel + some swipe files. (Psst: You can see my answer to the first question here: How to Know Who to Hire Next)
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So, you need to make a hire – and you need to make that hire count! Not only do you want to screen for expertise, the ability to work independently and handle creative problem-solving – you want to find a person who vibes with your team culture and your business mission.
Easy to describe – but how do you hire for it?!
It's a two-part answer: first, you want to make sure some things are in place prior to floating the job description; and then there are some best-practices to follow in the screening/interview phase itself. Let's take them one by one.
What to Do Before You Float the Open Position
The first is to actually have business core values! If you haven't taken the time to crystallize what your values are, you're going to have a hard time evaluating candidates against what you hold dear.
Go through the process to set the values that your business and your team are going to operate under, and have a strong point of view when you write those. What sets your business out from another business, what makes you different?
A lot of times I see business core values that are positive attributes, but those attributes don't really set that company apart from another company in a meaningful way. For instance, integrity is a wonderful (and necessary) quality to have – but it doesn't really distinguish your brand or your business from any other brand or business.
If you're stumped, think about how work gets done by your team? Are you known for moving fast? Prioritizing fun and whimsy? Being measured and careful? Think about two businesses that do the exact same thing in the marketplace – how would you contrast one to another, work-style-wise? Those are the attributes you're trying to uncover.
The second point is to take those core values and live them and embody them in the culture of your team.
When you do that — when you run your business according to your values, and your team operates according to your values — you will actively attract and repel the right people, the right applicants, the right clients, the right vendors, everything.
When you run your business according to your values, and your team operates according to your values — you will actively attract and repel the right people.
That is almost half the battle right there! You will instinctively know when a person or an interaction is aligned or not aligned with your values if you're constantly and consistently living them out.
How to Screen for Values During the Hiring Process
Okay, so let's talk about incorporating and integrating your business values in the hiring process.
1. Put your values into your job description. You should always be including a section that talks about the business, and what better way to highlight why and how you do what you do than to talk about the values that underpin your operations.
Don't just list the values, but include a statement or two that shapes and explains what that value means to you, and how you and your team operate by it.
I also encourage you to include a DEI paragraph. (When you go to the swipe file – see the link below – you will see a paragraph for your consideration there.)
2. In the applicant questionnaire, ask applicants to answer which one or two values resonated with them, and why. The first benefit of this is that it forces the applicant to go back and read them! And you begin already to attract and repel the right people. The people who are turned on by your values, will will be eager to move forward; the people who don't resonate with your values might not move further into the process – that just makes your job a little bit easier!
By the way, the answers to this question – which value(s) resonated with you and why – often are pretty basic. And that's fine. You're not necessarily looking for a standout A+ answer. A lot of them will say in essence, "I resonated with this particular value, because I share that value." The value of the question is not seeing who can write the most moving answer – the value is in getting the applicant to pay attention to your values.
The value of the question is not seeing who can write the most moving answer – the value is in getting the applicant to pay attention to your values.
3. Ask for a short video, using the prompt, "Tell us one thing you're most proud of, professionally — and most proud of, personally."
Not only is this question a good conversation starter – most everyone is eager to talk about the things that they're most proud of – most candidates find it easy to speak about their proudest moments and are usually relaxed and open in the video. (Video applicant jitters are real – but usually aren't good indicators of whether a candidate is strong or not).
Here's why the question is so helpful: It reveals what people value and their reasons for why they value it. It's a perfect a little window into their values without actually asking them, "Hey, please list your values." Is the way that they describe their proudest moment resonating with your values? Is what they value harmonious to what your team would value? It's a really great filtering tool.
4. You can ask this same question during an interview. You may get a riff on the same answer, or you may get a different example. You can ask followup questions to dig deeper. It just helps you get more clear on the things that they value and why they value them. And just trust that the alignment or the non-alignment is going to begin to show itself during that conversation.
My Recommended Hiring Funnel + Swipes
This is the hiring funnel I recommend, whether you post to the "big boards" or not. Posting on your business' social and LinkedIn will tell the world that your business is growing (always a happy announcement) — and may attract folks with an affinity for your brand and/or your industry, which is a nice short-cut to finding a great hire.
1. A social post with a headline + teaser sentence or two that...
2. Links to a gDoc (or web page) with the full job description (including core values) that has a...
3. Link to Google Form with application/screening questions where...
4. The results go onto a gSheet that the hiring team can monitor.
OTHER BEST PRACTICES TO HIRE FOR VALUES
- Put your values in your job description. Here is the swipe file with a full example.
- On your application, include a question about the values: Which 1 or 2 values resonated with you and why? Here is a swipe file with a full example.
- Also ask for a 2-minute video with this prompt: Tell us one thing you're most proud of professionally and one thing you're most proud of personally. It reveals what people value & the reasons why they value it — it's a little window into THEIR core values.
Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think of it.