THE BLOG
09/19/2013 02:19 pm ET Updated Nov 19, 2013

The Last Question You Must Ask Before Hiring Someone

When hiring for a position you are naturally focused on assessing candidates based on what you want and need and what is best for the business, but if you fail to thoroughly address what is best for the individual who is applying you are exposing yourself to one of the biggest errors of recruitment as well as missing the best opportunity to build a great team.

One of the most valuable characteristics of an employee is their genuine love for the job and their inner sense of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity that they are in. These people are naturally more inclined to be engaged and give a lot to the role and company, be loyal, cooperative, and innovative, and be long term employees. Additionally when these employees are alongside similar, like-minded staff this will foster an exceptional team and work culture.

In order for this to happen there needs to be genuine value in the role for the specific employee from the very start. You can provide high salaries, great benefits and a positive work culture for the prospective employee, however there is always going to be a limit to what you can offer. The most effective way to establish a high-value exchange for the employee is to carefully assess, before hiring, where they are at in their career and life path, what their needs and wants are, and to make an honest assessment of whether the specific job is genuinely going to be a positive and progressive next step for them.

After the candidate has ticked all the boxes of what you need for the role and for the business, you need to step back, neutrally put your own interests aside, and ask yourself: "Is this job the next best step for this person in their life?"

You can ask the candidate this question as well, but unfortunately you can't rely on their answer. You need to make the decision for yourself. Obviously pay close attention to their answer, but if they want the job they will say yes and them simply wanting the job is not enough. People are prone to making all kinds of rationalizations and compromises to get jobs. Then, 3-6 months later, when the reality of their situation has fully set in and their compromises have eaten away at their enthusiasm they start to become a drain on the team and eventually start looking elsewhere.

Before you hire someone you need to put yourself in their shoes. You are looking for the elements of the new role that are progressive for them. Money, learning, career opportunity, and alignment with personal and professional goals and passions are all key, but there are also lifestyle elements to consider such as distance to work, hours and office/home flexibility. You need to have a good understanding of what is important to them and the nature of their previous roles in terms of these elements so you can see how this new role will be better and progressive for them. It is a natural human condition to thrive on progress. Wherever there is no new learning or progress a person will naturally be unengaged, bored and unmotivated.

The red flags to watch out for are those things that are backwards or sideways steps for them. Be aware of anything that is a compromise for them. Some will be more significant than others. Everything is not always going to be progressive so you will need to look at the situation holistically and weigh it all up.

A really obvious illustration of this is someone who is willing to take a pay cut for the opportunity that the job has for them. Personally, it would be very rare for me to employ someone if they are going to be taking a pay cut. These people, nine times out of 10, within six months, will be unsatisfied and feel like you owe them something. When I am hiring I want to be in a situation where I am giving the employee an amazing opportunity, and a pay cut certainly isn't amazing.

This principle applies across any area that isn't progressive. No one wants to go backwards. People say they are ok about it, but they aren't, and that's why you need to make the executive decision. There are always going to be situations in life when people have to go backwards in order to go forwards, but as an employer you are better off catching them on the way up.

When I'm hiring I'm looking for the biggest win-win exchange I can. I can't only think about my own interests because so much is riding on the motivation and state of mind of the employee. So when you are hiring remember to step outside of yourself and think in terms of what is for the highest good of all concerned. It is actually a beautiful experience when you realize that what is best for them is actually what is best for you.

At Magicdust, I can honestly say that we currently have the best team in the seven-year history of the business and one of the main reasons is this holistic win-win approach to hiring. If you'd like some more ideas on hiring you can check out our small business hiring sequence.

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