3 Interviewing Secrets to Find Rock Star Employees

It blows my mind how many companies lack any true structure behind their interview process. Especially when you consider interviewing is an HR function that every single company participates in.

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The Flaws of a Typical Interview Process

After a few technically focused sessions, interviewers think they know enough about the candidate to make an offer. Next, they’ll slap a badge on these ill-vetted employees and give them the ability to shape the company. Six months later, they’ll wonder why their teams aren’t running the way they want.

At first, executives think everything’s fine. Then comes the day where they look up and realize their culture isn’t heading in the direction they wanted. Their people aren’t engaged, delivering on their promises, or having a good time.

In almost every one of those situations we can point to the interview process as being the first kink in the chain. No matter the size of your company, it’s important to follow some interviewing best practices. This can help ensure you’re properly controlling the cultural impact of each hire.

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Here are a few secrets that you can build upon.

1) Hire Based on Core Values

If you don’t have core values you’re willing to hire and fire based on, the first thing you need to do is create some. Your interview process has to align with your values. Every single candidate should be questioned against them.

For example, say one of your values speaks to high levels of customer service. In this case, every strong candidate should show behaviors and a passion around helping clients. This includes engineers, software developers, and other behind the scenes employees who may never interact with your customers face to face.

A big mistake is hiring people who are awesome technically, but don’t believe in your fluffier values. Those people will end up being toxic to your culture.

2) Set the Bar Really Freaking High

You’re not going to beat your competitors by letting average employees through the door. That’s a given. At the same time, a candidate who’s talented technically, may not be the right hire either. Setting the bar high means holding out until you find someone amazing, both technically and culturally Holding out can be painful in the beginning, but it always pays off in the end.

Most companies don’t wait though. They find someone with the perfect skill set and overlook that they don’t live by the same core values. They, “Can’t find another Software Engineer on the whole planet who’s as smart as this guy”. A year later they’re wondering why the team mojo is so bad and no one wants to work with this person.

Great companies set the bar high because they know it takes a perfect mix of talent and cultural fit to bring someone new to the team. They’re patient in their pursuit of the right person. They don’t get caught up in the gleam of technical skills at the risk of hiring a culture misfit.

3) Eliminate Confusion Internally and Cover All the Bases

All too often the interview process becomes siloed. Employees head to interviews without specific areas to cover. They’re unsure who else has talked to the candidates or what they’re supposed to emerge knowing.

Afterwards, everyone meets to decide on a candidate. Without enough information, a weak decision is made.

Interviewers should know exactly what topics everyone is in charge of before talking to the candidate. They should be held accountable for the construction and execution of interview questions. During group discussions afterwards, everyone should be able to report their questions and answers.

Bringing it all Together

Creating great culture within your organization starts with a great interviewing process. Don’t let the wrong people into your organization by ignoring core values; set the bar high, and cover all your bases.

Does your company have it’s own “secrets” during interviews that ensure the right people get hired?

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Marisa Keegan
by Marisa Keegan
Marisa Keegan has held culture and engagement roles inside two nationally recognized great places to work, started the networking group Culture Fanatics, and wrote the book Culture: More than Jeans and Margarita Machines. She was recognized as one of the Top 100 Employee Engagement Experts in the US in 2013 and is currently a consultant to organizations interested in creating a great culture.
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