21Jan
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How To Hire Great Employees Who “Fit” Your Business

Photo of business people standing with question mark on boards

This is a guest post by fellow entrepreneur, Devin Day. He shared this experience with me and I thought it was both interesting and useful. I hope you get something out of it, as I have. Thanks Devin!

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I can still see his face. The looked-great-on-paper developer who turned out to be a total nightmare.

As Co-Founder of a startup, I wasted a lot of time and money hiring employees like him. Employees who just didn’t “fit.” Salaries of $62,000 in three months, to be exact.

I thought I was doing it the right way: posting jobs on Craigslist, LinkedIn and other popular sites, then selecting a candidate based on his/her education, skill set and experience. I was wrong.

A systematic approach

Intesi!, a company specializing in behavioral assessments, estimates that 80% of hiring decisions are based on a candidate’s intellect and experience – 85% of turnover is due to behavior or style incompatibility.

That statistic rings true for me. After spinning my wheels, refereeing arguments among employees and spending too much money for too little output, I cleaned house and set out to find a better way.

I needed a systematic approach to finding the developers and staff with the right behavioral traits for each position. Not only that, I needed employees who were coach-able, and I needed to understand what motivated each of them. In the end, the DiSC test provided me with the information I was searching for.

The DiSC test

DiSC stands for four characteristics: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. A DiSC behavioral assessment will tell you which one of those characteristics is strongest in each candidate, so you can hire employees who fit your required role. The test removes a lot of the guesswork by indicating how a candidate is likely to react in various situations.

More importantly, a DiSC test can help you define each position. When you’re hiring your first few employees as a new business owner, a position’s roles and responsibilities may not be completely defined.

Undefined roles = hiring failures. Employees need to know what’s expected of them.

Finding the right test

After a lot of research and implementation, I’d recommend using a three-part DiSC test which includes:

  1. Role Behavior Analysis – defines your needs for the position
  2. General Characteristics Test – profiles the candidate
  3. Cross-Reference – a report compiled from the two tests above

There are several companies that offer the type of DiSC test you’ll want. Intesi! is the service I use. It’s cost-effective and provides plenty of information for start-ups. DiSC Unlimited is another available option.

After letting go my supposed “rockstars”, the DiSC test helped me identify some “greener” candidates who turned out to be incredibly talented, hard-working, passionate and loyal (not to mention less expensive) employees.

All of the folks at my company, including myself took the test to help us further understand our strengths and weaknesses. I felt the results to be spooky-accurate, and they’ve improved our communication, cohesion and progression. Here is a snapshot of some of the stengths identified in my test.

Devin Day DISC Profile

Do you think employee “fit” is important? How have you corrected past hiring mistakes?

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About Alex Lawrence

Alex has been a successful entrepreneur for 20+ years. His current venture Lendio ranks #34 on the Inc. 500 list. Alex earned a BS degree at the University of Utah and his MBA at Weber State University, where he is Vice Provost and Director of the Entrepreneurship Program. If you want to talk with Alex about business and entrepreneurship (or other questions), email him (alex AT startupflavor DOT com), or you can find him on Twitter @_AlexLawrence.
  • How timely!! The company I work for / with is doing interviews next week to hire a new developer for my team. This is the first time in my life that I’ll have the chance to participate in interviews.

    Thanks for the great post! It will help me tons as I prep.

    • Devin Day

      Aaron, glad the post was helpful and good luck with hiring your developer!

      Side note: Each role wether it be sales, marketing, developers, etc all have industry documented traits that do well in the positions. For example, if hiring for a sales position you want them to be high in the “influence” category as it shows they are outgoing and like to interact socially. But not too high as the sales person will tend to goof off always wanting to “socialize” and distract everyone. So it’s good to understand the role you need and the balance that is best for each position.

      When I am hiring I look at two things:
      1) What the industry says a disc test profile should look like for a given role (sales, developers, marketing, executives)
      2) I do a role behavioral analysis test to define any unique traits I need outside of the industry norm

      Once I have done these two I can use them as a balance to consider when reviewing resumes and their DiSC test.

      Hope that helped 🙂

  • Building a team is a great challenge; building yourself even a greater one. Especially in the early stages of a start up, there is a lot of work the founders need to do to hone and improve their own skills.

    It gets tougher when the team expands and more people join the venture. How can the entrepreneur continue and improve himself and the team to meet new challenges?

    Selecting new employees is very tough and many times it seems that the most important things are not written in the CV..

    A person I worked with closely when I started my own company gave me the following tips:
    > if within the first three months you need to do their job, they are not the right person for you
    > small things that bother you as an employer at the very start, will turn to big, big things down the road. Only hire those you feel 110% sure about.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Hello Hod – welcome! I like the two points you make at the end of your comment. I’d agree nearly 100% based on my experience. Hope to hear from you again, great comment.

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