It begins with an open mind and asking the right questions, and it ends with honesty and putting your best foot forward.
John Compton, Agile Search
Although the economic environment has no doubt changed the way you make strategic decisions, hiring the top talent within your sector will always be a competitive advantage. Your goal is to ensure the people you hire are a great fit, in all dimensions. Here are six recommendations for making amazing hires every time.
Don’t limit your candidate pool
Take the time to interview “stretch” candidates. Seek individuals who have climbed the biggest mountains and you will come out ahead every time. As the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Sometimes resumes don’t tell the full story of the circumstances someone has overcome to get where they are today. In reviewing resumes, be very clear on the selection criteria, but also consider providing stretch candidates who don’t match them perfectly with an initial interview. Past performance is often an indicator of future performance, but sometimes the most indicative examples of character development may not appear on the resume. Character development often provides the mental edge that some use to climb mountains while their peers climb hills.
Understand the job seeker’s aspirations
See if the job seeker’s aspirations line up with your job opportunity, both short- and long-term. Misalignment of aspirations is the primary reason the performance of new “amazing” hires quickly tapers. Having your hires deliver increasingly more positive results is only possible by aligning the short- and long-term goals of both parties. As you create a job description for the role, be mindful of how you see the position changing in two, three, and five years. How will this hire fit into your projected growth plans and how can thinking ahead meet the needs and objectives of both sides? Hiring managers must be thoughtful and realistic in not over-estimating the growth potential of the role. They must also be sure to ask the right questions and dig in during the interview, in order to learn about a candidate’s genuine long-term career ambitions.
Evaluate beyond the formal interview
Always keep in mind that someone who interviews well may be just that, but only that — a good interviewee. We believe the in-person (or virtual in-person, these days) interview still reigns supreme in the assessment process, but adding a structured homework assignment can be a powerful evaluative tool. Consider incorporating a live problem-solving session into the interview, providing a take-home assignment, or requesting non-proprietary samples of current work as part of your evaluation. The key is to then engage with the job seeker to learn their thought process.
Have finalists spend plenty of time with your team
Spending quality time with the hiring team is the only way to gain confidence in your potential new hire. That’s a challenge in today’s virtual world. Consider including finalists in a non-proprietary company meeting or problem-solving session, with a scheduled follow-up and discovery conversation about the experience. These follow-on conversations can go very far in evaluating how a potential hire listens, how they think and how they might contribute to your organization. Just don’t break the golden rule: Never expect free consulting advice. Do expect outstanding candidates to continue to want to work with you through the evaluation process in order to demonstrate how they think, behave and interact with your team. When it comes to your company’s interview process, we recommend planning for high-quality time rather than high-quantity, because time will always be working against you when it comes to landing exceptional talent.
Be clear about expectations
Job candidates need to understand your expectations, and especially any challenges you anticipate for the business. Hiring creates a relationship, and relationships are built on one thing: trust. To build a foundation for trust, it’s essential to be up-front about specific known challenges the new hire would face. Potential budget shortfalls, regulatory compliance issues or an upcoming milestone with short lead time are all relevant examples. Engaging a top candidate on these issues will uncover a great deal about them, you, and whether or not the match is a good fit.
Put your best foot forward
Make sure the company’s value proposition is clearly defined and front-and-center for the job seeker. For emerging medical device companies especially, it’s no longer enough simply to say that your company saves lives or is improving healthcare. To attract top talent, as with raising capital, medtech startups must differentiate themselves from the competition, emphasizing strengths and experience, to answer the ultimate question: Why will your company succeed? Be sure to highlight how your company is either disrupting the market or doing things differently from rivals. This will put you in the best position to attract the brightest minds who are aiming to make the biggest impact.
John Compton is president of Agile Search, a Boston-area specialized talent acquisition firm dedicated to serving the emerging medical technology sector.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Design and Outsourcing or its employees.