When it comes to recruiting and hiring top talent, I’ve learned a lot in my short career – some from my successes, and even more from my failures. So, I’m going to share my best practices for hiring with you, in the hope you’ll be more equipped when it comes to hiring and recruiting.

Understand the interview process is a two-way street

I believe in an interview process that’s a two-way street. You’re interviewing prospective talent, but they’re also interviewing you. If you’re being a good employer and a good leader (or a good leadership team), you’re going to bring people in that you know, to the best of your abilities, are going to be set up for success.

What does a good interview process look like? Here, I’m going to use Una as a reference, since we’ve spent an immense amount of time and effort refining a process that really works – a lot of which was inspired by a book by Geoff Smart and Randy Street, titled “Who: The A Method for Hiring.”

Define the seat on the bus

First, you’ve got to define the seat on the bus. Whether a small or large enterprise, before we even begin our talent search, we define the seat. We don’t like to use job descriptions, which are boring, old and useless. The typical job description lists expected tasks but doesn’t define the measurements and outcomes necessary for success.

Instead, we us scorecards and define what success looks like in each seat 30, 60, 90, 365 days out. What we’ve found is that people can look up after a year and actually see their accomplishments, which is great for cultivating their own self-worth as well as their value to the company. It’s critical for your people to know exactly what success looks like.

Survey prospective talent

After we’ve defined the seat with a scorecard, we use a program called Culture Index to survey prospective talent. This talent assessment tool meets EEOC guidelines, and even includes comprehensive training and an experienced business adviser, to make sure we’re getting the most out of it.

It’s hard to express just how much Culture Index has become an indispensable tool for Una. It has about a 92% accuracy rating when it comes to providing insights into how a person conducts their business – it’s not a test, there is no pass or fail, but it is a program that makes a huge impact on selecting talent that will fit. After all, to quote a line from one of my favorite movies, Miracle, “I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right ones,” and Culture Index makes this a lot more achievable on a consistent basis.

As Adam Walker, my friend, adviser and Culture Index expert says, “Assess for success. Don’t set people up to fail. Nobody wants to lose. Take a cue from professional sports; the most successful organizations use behavioral analytics for smart people decisions.”

Conduct the interview in three parts

Once we’ve identified the talent we’d like to interview, we start with a thirty-minute phone screening. If that goes well, we bring them in for what we at Una call our “who” part, where we’ll typically spend an hour to an hour and a half getting to know the candidate. This begins with the leadership team asking very specific questions, and then there’s a secondary part where I come in as the owner and chief people officer.

Finally, if all goes well to this point, whether it’s with me or the hiring / recruiting manager, we’ll go out to eat, and invite the candidate to bring their spouse or partner so we can get to know them. This is still very much a part of the interview process and gives us a strong idea who they are, and how they do life; and it all goes back to my philosophy that I only hire people I want to break bread with, because we’re going to be spending a lot of time together.

Now, I can’t emphasize this enough. In addition to the Culture Index program, the “Who” book I already mentioned is by far, the best resource on the face of the planet for implementing a proper hiring process and vetting out candidates.

Here’s a critical point to remember. You must define who is responsible for hiring. At the end of the day, it’s not HR, it’s the leader that should be responsible. Whether it’s the owner, the president, CEO, whatever the title is, you know the buck stops there, as Truman would say. I’ll take credit for any of the hiring decisions I’ve been a part of, and I’ve been a part of all of them; and any of the failures fall on me too.

Talk to their leaders

Along with the three-part interview, make sure you’re talking to their former bosses and leaders. You don’t want references from friends; you want to talk to the people they’ve reported to, so you can find out who they really are, and what they have really done. It’s also a good idea to look at their social / online presence, because you can learn so much about how a person conducts themselves, which can be very helpful when it comes to making a good hiring decision.

Know the dos and don’ts of HR and think long-game

It’s critical to know the dos and don’ts of HR and recruitment. It doesn’t matter what size your business is, or what you’re doing, just make sure you understand all the laws and statutes. Questions to avoid include asking about age, race, gender, marital status, whether they have children, and making any mention of faith, to name a few taboo subjects. Now, most states and local governments are forbidding inquiries about past salaries. Know your stuff so you can protect yourself and your company.

I’ll also say this. There’s a very big difference between getting all the documents in place (not to minimize the importance of proper documentation) and making sure you’re providing a good interviewing experience for everybody that you come into. You never know who you might meet. I’ve had enough interview experiences where we’ve not made an offer, but because of the way they were treated, they referred somebody else to us. So, always think long-game, you never know who you might meet, and I don’t care how big your city is, it can get small in a hurry – especially with social media these days, everyone is sharing everything.

How long should the hiring process take?

So, how long should the hiring process take? The process from start to finish, can take anywhere from three to six months. This may seem excessive, but you want to be front-roading this because no matter how big your business is, every hire really matters. Think about the hard and soft costs when you’re making hiring decisions and dealing with hiring mistakes.

Be attractional

A final insight is simply this. Recruiting never ends, nor does the interview process. Top talent typically is already providing value somewhere else, so if you want that top talent to be with you, then you must be attractional. You attract what you are. Have a clear vision and be passionate about what you are doing – passion is infectious. So, if you have built an attractional company, whether it’s yourself and a couple of folks, or you and a hundred others, your culture will speak to it online as well as when people interact with you, your team members and leaders. Never forget it, it’s real so be authentic.