Updated: Aug 7, 2019
If a salesperson can't sell you into giving them the role during an interview, then they are the wrong person in the first instance.
I've been sold twice into giving people sales roles when they ended up being absolutely terrible, but just nailed the interview process.
The question is, how do you truly get to know and understand a person and how they work before you hire them?
You should call a potential employees references 100% of the time, the issue generally is that they have been pre-prepared and are going to say all of the best things possible about the candidate.
So how do you ask questions to get the truth, or to put them in a corner where they have to admit things?
- Try asking about the mistakes they had made during their last role?
- What things annoy you about them?
- Have they had official warnings?
I believe it is really important to see the real personality behind the front.
- Religious questions
- Philosophical questions
- Tried to bait them into speaking badly about their previous employer (red flag)
- Asking about working extra hours without extra pay
- Fights they have had with teams before
The golden rule is the 'rule of 3'.
If you give someone an offer (1) and they come back with changes (2), you make the changes (3) and send it back and they ask for more changes... CUT YOUR LOSSES RIGHT THERE.
This is the ultimate sign of a difficult employee. Imagine when you have to fire them - the kinds of difficulty you are going to have, or when they start to think they deserve a pay rise?...
Regarding pay and bonuses. Unless you have gone out to poach someone, I think everyone should buy-in at less than their market salary and negotiate performance upside. Incase you haven't realised, there is no penalty for an employee doing a shit job except losing the job and not putting you on the reference list!. Whereas the penalty for you is an enormous amount of time, energy and cash spent on terrible outcomes - only to have to restart again.
3 months MINIMUM. The bigger the role the longer the honeymoon period in my opinion. During this time they can be 'let go' on the spot. This is where they should be earning their spot on your team.
The ones that count.
1. Commitment questions - When companies are in trouble, there is a really nice technique to see who on your team is truly bought in....
"I'm not going to be able to pay you for X time because of cash shortages - so you can stay on for that time without pay and then ill give you equity and back to normal pay afterwards".
Here you will see who leaves on the spot and who is there for the long run. (I wish I tried this earlier rather than hustling to make more money to pay staff).
2. Do things during the interview process that happen in the business.
Maybe in your line of business customers yell at you often? Try and organise this to happen during an interview, see what their reaction is.
3. Test their social activity and their thoughts about being hungover at work.
The shore-fire way to know you have an employee that is not 101% in, is one that has a big social life.
4. How do they manage their time/ activities
This staff member MUST be highly organised with either a calendar/ monday / trello etc. No high-performance team ever ran off to-do lists.
5. How do they manage overwhelm?
Not sure how to test this, hopefully one of you reading can let me know!
6. How do you get them to do something that blows you away / i.e something out of nothing
The most invaluable employees are those that don't need to ask you how to get something done, they just seem to make the impossible possible. Ask them to do something seemingly impossible in a short period before your interview. Such as completing a research document etc. The best employee I ever did, took a high-level pitch document and turned it into an extensive presentation before our first meeting...!
7. Be incredibly open and direct.
Make sure that your expectations are as clear as day about everything, even things you aren't meant to talk about, they are going to come up sooner or later anyway.
I realise in hindsight that much of this post is in quite a negative stance, however the underside of things is always much harder to find-out and much worse when you do. Just like when you are validating an idea, clear all of the assumptions before jumping in!
*P.s all of my posts are first drafts, my researcher will buff them out - so make sure to write in and ask for extensions or explanations if you are interested.