Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur taxpayers own.
It will not make your business a success. Your team will. The smaller the company, the greater the potential impact of any one employee, especially new hires who will significantly change their team by altering (for better or worse) the norm within the organization.
To innovate, thrive and grow, you need people with a variety of perspectives and experiences on your team. If everyone looks, thinks, and acts the same, you’ll be less likely to discover the pearls of wisdom and insights that often emerge when smart, intuitive, and growth-minded people collaborate on a project.
When hiring, it can be tempting to look for candidates who have worked at companies similar to yours, if not direct competitors. This method often works for large companies, but I think small business owners and startup founders, especially those making their first external hires, need to approach hiring differently:
Related: 4 Strategies for Hiring the Right People at Your Startup
Achievements and learning are more important than specific skills. Small, up-and-coming businesses move quickly, and your team members need to be ready for the race. Failing fast is fine, but only if you can also learn fast, soaking up the key learnings and applying them to the next endeavor. More importantly, people who have made something important happen elsewhere are likely to do it again. I like to ask two key questions during the interview process. The answers tell me batch:
Tell me about the achievement you are the majority proud of — something that would not have happened without you (and why).
Tell me about the moment in your career when you learned the most (and why).
How the person defines success, the specific actions they took, their emotional reactions to the situation, and the ways they interacted with others at the time tell a really important story. It’s the story of “What it looks like when I’m most impactful” and “This is how I learn and share that learning.” Parts of the story will also offer important clues as to how the person might fit into her crew.
In your interview, explore these questions with your team in mind. To think, Would that kind of success have happened in my store? Is this person going to make my team better? How?
If the person doesn’t have an answer, that says a lot about their initiative and willingness to take a calculated risk. What are the chances that your company is the first place where you have achieved something that you are proud of?
Related: The Key to a Truly Successful Hiring Process
Take a test drive
Before you commit to hiring someone full-time, it’s important to make sure you understand exactly how the new hire would affect your company and your team. And that person would also appreciate having a clearer idea of what the job actually entails. Therefore, both are likely to benefit from a trial.
Just as testing and iteration are important when building and launching products, they’re also useful for starting a newcomer’s journey within your organization. One way to do this is to hire the candidate as a consultant before committing to full-time work; a good trial period is 30 to 90 days.
Also, assign the potential new hire to a specific project that requires interaction with other team members and may have time constraints or other barriers to success. How do they complement your existing team? That will give you a better idea of whether they are the right fit for your company and vice versa.
Related: So that candidate seems like the right fit for the job. But is the job right for him/her?
Some of your core team has likely been with you from the start, so adding new members to the mix can be daunting. If you choose well and hire a multifaceted person who brings new perspectives to the mix, that “healthy friction” can challenge assumptions and spark new energy that reinvigorates the team.
But don’t surprise them. Let them know why she is adding a new person to fill in the gaps and tell them what she sees as potential influence coming from that person. You want the new person to fit in, not because they have the same background or experience, but because your existing team respects them bringing something new to the table. Ultimately, it’s the differences that will make your team and your business stronger.
By hiring first and foremost for achievement in a team context, you’ll be more prepared to instill innovation and creative problem solving into your decision-making process. Spice up your workforce with some unconventional hires, and you may uncover the spark needed for your company to evolve.