It may seem like I want to discuss hiring... and I do.

Recently I wrote about ownership couched in a story about hiring and I was asked by a couple of people if I could offer some insight and thoughts into the topic of hiring itself — Bingo, Bango, Bongo a blog topic presented itself. Much of my hiring over the years has been for middle management and entry-level sales positions, and as I look back, it has added up to about seventy-five people (give or take) I've personally hired. And although I am by no means an expert, I do have strong opinions on the matter. 

My intention here is to offer perspective as a hiring manager for a role that has been defined and signed off on, and not for an opportunity that is ill defined and only being considered as a way to bring great talent into an organization — I might add this happens much more than I believe people appreciate (a subtle shoutout to the importance of networking).

In my mind the hiring process needs to start with four things: 1) a requisition to hire needs to be opened (or if it's a smaller organization the boss needs to give the definitive green light), 2) an interview team needs to be identified, 3) a job description needs to be written which also identifies the competencies needed to be successful in the position (these competencies should align with much of the overall interview discussion) and lastly, 4) an understanding that the hiring manager owns the hiring decision.

In the end you are looking for an individual who can effectively fulfill the requirements of the job description, work within the culture of the team (and organization), and is promotable in the future (it indicates you are bringing extra talent into the organization which is always a good thing). My process is quite simple — I like to interview candidates first (even before HR if possible), develop a short list of candidates, and then pass them onto the team. Once the candidates have been interviewed I assemble the team to review the candidates and get feedback regarding who is the best fit. I thank the team for their input and then go off and make a decision. If it's a hard decision I will re-interview the final two candidates and then make a decision. Many times there is a need for senior management to review the candidate, but ultimately I am putting forth the person with the understanding that "I want to hire this person, and please tell me why I can't". My process isn't particularly unique but it has served me well.

Regarding the actual interview itself, there are some mechanics and considerations I work into all discussions —

1) I break my interviews into three sections: a) a quick overview of the position, the objectives and expectations, as well as the company and it's culture b) my questions and c) the candidates questions. I always schedule at least an hour and work very hard to fill the hour with discussion.

2) I use the STAR interviewing methodology; the purpose of the questioning it employs is to get into the details of a Situation, the Task (or the resulting objective), the Action used, and the Result. This methodology allows you to get away from general responses and get into the detail so you can better understand a person's capabilities and competencies. More information on this is just a Google search away.

3) My first question is always the same — "I have your black and white resume in front of me; can you please add some colour to it". I am actually more interested in the approach to this question and how the candidate goes about answering because it offers insight into their thought process and ability to communicate. I never like when asked where I would like them to begin because I am also looking for initiative and independent thinking. My other questions are focused on the competencies needed to be successful in the role.

4) I try to create an environment for a conversation instead of a series of questions and answers. I believe it creates a more comfortable and realistic situation to better understand possible working relationships and interaction.

5) I don't think I have ever hired anyone who wasn't full of questions... it's a strong indicator of interest, curiosity and respect.

6) The interview process starts the moment you send in a resume (or application) and ends when a contract is signed; it is not just the agreed upon meeting time between 2:00 and 3:00 on a Wednesday when you have to be "on your game". I was part of an interview team once and my interview was over; as we waited for the candidate to meet with a colleague, he relaxed and decided to pass the time with his thoughts on women... it turns out he was quite the misogynist. He didn't get the job as you would expect and he was the lead candidate at the time. The Interview is always on, and besides, a good interviewer will always find your dark secrets.

I have always been of the belief that as much as a company is interviewing a candidate for a position, the candidate is also interviewing the company to determine if it is a place she or he wants to work. This is the reason I like to make my interviews a conversation — ultimately it is a discussion to determine if there is an opportunity to work together, be productive, build skills and enjoy what you are doing.

After all, we do spend an awful lot of time working, and there is nothing worse than being in a situation you don't like.


It may seem like I want to discuss hiring people...

Like with most things we get better the more we do something, and for me I became rather good at hiring people. In the beginning there was a learning curve and there was the ever-lurking spectre of making the wrong decision, but with some good hires made, lessons learned, and a process in place, over time there were very few that I look back on with any regret.

You might think I'm about to offer perspective on hiring, but you would be wrong. And although the following is about a hiring situation, you would still be wrong.

Like any good hiring situation, there is a hiring manager and an interview team to help onboard the best possible candidate. Depending on the size of the organization there is most likely HR support and maybe even a Talent Acquisition team to help find possible candidates. Most interview processes involve a number of rounds that result in two or three possible choices; from there a decision needs to be made. As I reflect on a specific hiring situation, we had done all the interviewing and had boiled it down to two candidates; a debriefing meeting had been called to get everyone's insights, thoughts and opinions — This is particularly important because it ensures the best decision is made. The team's feedback was split regarding who the best candidate was, and one person in particular was very vocal regarding who needed to be hired and how it was really the only choice. Finally I looked at the phone (it was a conference call) and simply asked, "Who owns the hiring decision?"  After a moment, a voice sheepishly spoke up and said that the hiring manager did. With that clarified, I thanked everyone for their input, and told them I would make my decision by the end of the day.

And there you have it, what this is really about is Ownership. 

And why the need to write 313 words before I mention "Ownership"? Mostly because when you boil it all down there are really only two points to be made about ownership, and it wouldn't have been much of a read.

If you want to accomplish anything you need to have an Owner (Full Stop)

There can only be one Owner (Full Stop) 

I suppose we could also look to this famous saying to offer insight into what I have said — A camel is a horse designed by committee. And the reason is that although the camel is a magnificent animal, we all know if there had been an owner it would have been a horse.


CLIMBING THE HILL ... an analogy.

After being told we were part of something that raised $20.5 Million to help cure cancer in our lifetime, 5,044 of us got on our bikes and began a ride 219 kilometres over two days.

As the motivation of being part of something bigger than yourself starts to fade and the riders thin out, you settle into a rhythm as you make your way along the route. There is always someone around you... another rider or someone on the side of the road cheering you on, but ultimately you are left with your thoughts as you pedal — Pedals always turning.

The road is always in front of you; straight away; turning; rolling... and It inevitably brings you to that steep hill, because there is always a steep hill it seems.

You see it. The other riders see it. Every rider prepares for it in his or her own way. If you know it is coming you may be able to get some momentum and optimize your gearing to get the most of it. For those not so fortunate, you see the hill for the first time and have to react as quickly as you can to determine the best gear to get through the climb.  Ultimately, all must commit to a gear — Pedals always turning.

With head down, you focus on pedalling until you are either at the top of the hill or until you are unable to pedal anymore — Pedals always turning.

You can hear the sound of riders trying to gear down to ease the strain and fail; can hear riders cursing because someone can pedal no more and stops in front of them; can only watch through the corner of your eye those riders who surrender to the hill and start walking — Pedals always turning. With progress being made, lungs gasping for air, legs burning, and the spectre of simply stopping in your ear, you continue — Pedal always turning. It becomes simple willpower that keep the pedals always turning.

And then you are at the top. You made it. It is enjoyable being on your bicycle again. You continue the ride knowing the hill is behind you and you are better for climbing it.

Pedals always turning.

A shoutout to my riding buddies John and Kevin, I appreciate you guys riding up the hill with me. Our honorary captain Mike got sidelined this year, but I know he will join us next year because his pedals are always turning.


PS: As a final note, hills have nothing on the fuckin' headwind.