A FastCompany interview with CEO Ted Karkus of ProPhase Labs highlights his conscious decision to be involved in every aspect of his business, and of trusting his employees completely to do the work they’re tasked with.
This, he says, is possible because of a careful hiring process.
His approach to human resources breaks down to three parts:
1. Write your job description well.
I’ve posted before about how to write job descriptions. The key, according to Karkus is to manage expectations. He notes, “when you have senior members put together a job description, invariable each person has different ideas of what they think are the most important aspects in terms of job responsibilities.”
Writing job descriptions by committee requires several careful iterations, in which the hiring manager ultimately responsible for the new candidate pares the requirement down to just those that cannot be missing at the job’s outset. If you need someone who can code in a specific language, for example, that’s a necessary skill. So is media buying experience for an account director. But for a highly skilled writer or editor, industry knowledge isn’t necessary; it’s nice to have.
Karkus’s point that, “you’re rarely going to find a candidate who can do everything…so you have to prioritize those responsibilities” reminds us that fit is about culture and skills and experience, but that we’re dealing with humans, not software.
2. Scrutinize candidates thoroughly. Read resumes, call references…and give personality tests?
As useful as resumes are, they don’t tell the whole picture. A C.V. is basically an advertisement for a candidate. And it’s great for showing you what a job applicant thinks of themselves.
You can supplement that information with any number of tests to see if the way a candidate’s approach and personality will fit with the many other employees interacting with the role and with the management structure you have in place. Some examples of how companies use these tests use conventional and new techniques.
On the other hand, Cornell’s Human Resources researchers have several reasons to avoid this often overused technique.
3. Interview at the very end of the search.
I’ve talked before about the challenges for hiring managers of interviewing too many candidates. Interviews are crucial, but they take a lot of time. You need to be sure a candidate is right before you interview. Because at the point of interviewing a candidate, a face-to-face meeting or phone interview is to confirm your suspicions that a person will fit well. Not to get a sense of them (since you should already have a pretty good idea of whether they’re right), but to do a disaster check on the few candidates you’ve already selected.
Karkus’s point on micromanagement is do what you can do well, and wisely delegate the rest. That applies to hiring managers who contract a recruiter, to designers who hire a coder, and to writers who have designers handle the layout.