It’s been a while since I wrote in this codex. I’ve been interviewing candidates for SANPRAM, and it’s a little overwhelming. One of my core principles in recruiting is to root for their success. It has helped me receive consistently good feedback from them that it’s the best recruitment process they’ve ever been through.
But on the flip side, rooting for everyone’s success means now I have too many candidates I’d love to somehow fit into my team at SANPRAM. I’ve grown somewhat attached to them! Naturally, it’s not fair to them or to me to hire people who aren’t the best fit. They’re always welcome to apply later when the company is more mature.
So I’ll try to capture my hiring philosophy in written words, for my own sake. At some point, I need to let candidates go.
The first question is, what I’m really looking for.
First, SANPRAM needs to get on the radar of every single company in the world that’s serious about digital transformation or thinking about it, or shying away from it.
So on one hand, SANPRAM needs to become a world-class teaching machine. We’re teachers, and we teach. This means:
- The most thorough, informative, educational content about business and technology
- High-quality writing and editing.
- A tone that projects the heart of a teacher, confidence in being the best in the world, and a fun and approachable aura.
- Pleasing graphic design, video, music.
But that’s farming. It pays off well but takes time to yield a harvest. We also need to be hunting so the village can eat today:
- Finding out all the companies that fit our target.
- Hunt them.
But here’s the thing — we don’t yet know exactly who our target customers are and exactly what message will resonate with them. So I need to give BDRs room to search and seek adventure, and not force upon them a heavy quota. But still offer a good incentive to land a prospect. They need to be fairly autonomous.
- I’m not paying myself a salary. I’ll always pay employees before I pay myself.
- I’d like teammates who are committed to the company. If they’re not, I’ll feel bad about it and may begin to resent them. Not a good place to be.
- I’m willing to invest a lot of time into training “fresh” people. That’s how you pay it forward.
- Every company wants people who stick around. And people are more likely to stick around when you take both hygiene factors and motivating factors into account.
- It’s okay to say no to people, even if they’re qualified, if I’m not 100% sure I need them. And it’s okay to make hiring mistakes.
- There’s nothing I could do to mess up my business permanently. I’ve covered enough bases.
- What is my bar for quality? World-class. As long as they meet my bar, and are empathic, they’re in.
- Money doesn’t change people’s standards, and doesn’t affect whether they’re students of the craft or not. You can’t get higher quality out of someone by giving them a higher salary.
What can be acquired easily:
- Domain knowledge
- Exact tactics
- Design skills
What cannot be taught easily:
- A good EYE (high standards)
- Good EARS (empathy)
- Interest, curiosity
- Taking ownership
- Ability to self-introspect, coachability
- Happy person — our first cultural value is “take care of each other.” If the person doesn’t show that quality, let go of them.
Unless I see a clear sign of the non-teachable stuff, I cannot move someone forward. I owe it to the company, to myself and to them.
What can’t be judged from interviewing are: Ownership and Integrity. These can only be seen through a trial period.
- Do not compromise the company’s core values and non-teachable stuff for any candidate or employee.
- Pay fair and healthy compensation to talented and dedicated people. At the same time, don’t be under illusions that money solves all hiring problems.
- Invest in your people!