When is the last time you thought about your hiring practices? In my experience, most advisors run their practices by trying to be everything (marketer, human resources, etc.), when they really should focus on what they do best (being an advisor). And when it comes to hiring, advisors may go with a candidate that “feels right” to them. This week, Amy Kizer, managing partner of TalentLink Solutions – which specializes in hiring in the financial services sector – explains why you should balance your “gut feelings” about a candidate with actual data.
You are looking to hire, but you keep meeting duds. Their qualifications seem good on paper, but you can’t seem to click with any of them. They just don’t have that spark. How are you supposed to spend all day with someone who just seems…a little boring?
Enter Tim. Tim is a referral from an ex-coworker’s cousin. He is everything you want in an employee and a friend. He went to the same college as you, he really gets your sense of humor, and things just seem so easy with Tim. He doesn’t have a ton of experience, but you can train him! You know he is the right fit, even without going through all those interview questions you prepared for the other candidates. You didn’t have him do the skills assessment, and the personality profile you coveted doesn’t seem so important now. No need to check references, because he was a referral (you already know people love him). You offer him the job, because your gut is telling you it’s the right thing to do.
Your gut may not have steered you wrong in the past with other business decisions. However, it is important to remember that you are not an expert hiring manager, especially if this is your first hire! Your gut is inexperienced in this arena. It cannot be the sole guide for screening candidates. Remember, the interview process is about collecting data points and assessing them to see if a candidate is the right fit for your firm. You need to have all of the information in front of you before listening to your gut’s emotional input. Someone like Tim may seem perfect, but hiring him without proper vetting could be a huge mistake.
For example, does Tim have the ability and drive to pass his Series 7 or 63? Even if he has a good educational background, that doesn’t mean he is dedicated enough to put in the study time needed to pass. Does he have experience learning new technology, a new industry? What about training: how much time will you need to dedicate to training Tim and what will that mean to your business? Will he get along with your team and respect them? These questions must be answered before extending an offer.
Follow these steps to make sure you do not make a rash decision that will cost you time, money, and possibly even client relationships.
Step 1: Start with the job description
Successful hiring starts with the job description. Build your task list by thinking about the things you do not like to do, are not very good at doing, or are functions that your business needs help with. If you hire the right individual, these items will no longer be on your to-do list! When reviewing applicants, compare them against this description. Do they have the basic skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to positively affect your firm? Focus on the essentials of the job, and meet with candidates who have the experience to perform the responsibilities.
Step 2: Stick to the plan
During the interview, do not let your gut tell you to skip questions. You should have a well-defined plan for what you want to get out of the interview, and do not deviate. Again, making a successful hire is dependent on collecting a set of data points and using them to make the best possible decision. You wouldn’t pick an investment for a client based on your gut, would you? Therefore, if you happen to find a Tim (who could be your future best friend), you still need to complete the full interview process.
Here are some general situational questions you should always ask:
- What is the accomplishment you are most proud of and why?
- What do you do if you disagree with your boss?
- Where would you like to be with your career in 3 to 5 years?
- What are the three most important criteria to you in your next position?
- What would your current/former manager say about you?
In addition to these, ask specific questions regarding the role and the responsibilities. In the Tim example, he did not have a lot of exposure to the financial services industry. Can he show in his previous work experience a time when he learned a new computer system and mastered it? Does he have 2 or 3 examples of when he went above and beyond for a customer? Does he have success stories demonstrating his multi-tasking abilities? If you are satisfied with the answers, complete the rest of your interview process.
If you have other members on your team, decide who else should be involved in the hiring process. Finding the right hire is also about the candidate’s DNA matching your office DNA. Others in the office can help you assess this and ensure that the candidate will add to the synergy in the office, not deteriorate it.
Some advisors also use a personality profile or skills assessment, and references should always be checked. If the results are not what you hoped for, use them as data points to decide if you can and/or want to manage this individual, given what you found out. However, no one is perfect; remember that the overall data is more important than one concerning result.
Step 3: Evaluate why they are the best fit for the job
The Tim interview went well because you were excited to meet someone you liked as a friend. The bonding overshadowed the rest of the interview process. Remember, you aren’t looking for a mini-me! You are looking for a good employee. Review all of the information you learned about them, and take a hard look at anything that worried you. Be open to hiring employees who have different strengths than you; this could mean they have different personalities. If you are extroverted and love meeting with new clients, consider hiring someone who is more introverted, calculated, and operationally-minded. He or she could bring a degree of organization and strategy to your practice that you had not considered.
Listen to your gut, but don’t obey it
If the decision to hire someone is made just because you two get along, this is probably not going to work out. Do not lose sight as to why you needed to hire someone in the first place. If you can joke around but find out you cannot trust your new hire to get things done, the relationship will not last long. They must be capable of completing the tasks you need help with. Otherwise, they will be a drain on you and your resources. Finding the right employee is about a full assessment of skills, qualifications, personality, and their long-term goals. When these match up and your gut can quietly agree, you have found your future employee!
About TalentLink Solutions
TalentLink Solutions was created knowing that your firm’s success is determined by the quality of your team. We offer the financial services community direct hire solutions that allow for a firm’s growth and success. We understand the business, we are connected to the business and with over 35 years collectively of helping firms like yours, we know how to hire the right talent in this space. Let us help you distinguish between a good resume and a top candidate.
The opinions and views expressed herein are those of Amy Kizer. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Amy Kizer and TalentLink Solutions are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.