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You Only Have Yourself to Blame -- CEO, Hire Thyself

Posted by Jessica Mah to Inside inDinero, Business Advice

CEO Hire Thyself

This article was originally published on July 1, 2015 via my LinkedIn profile.

It’s not a tough concept to grasp–the best way to avoid turnover is to hire the right fit from the start. Which is why I’m always surprised by how little attention many CEOs give to recruiting. As co-founder of inDinero, I’ve worked hard to build the company in my vision, based on my values, so looking for myself in job candidates is a great way to hire individuals who will thrive. But how do you pick your counterparts out of the pack?

First, look inward

Self-awareness and emotional intelligence are step one. As I started building inDinero (for a second time), I read many books on recruiting and interviewing while personally looking through countless job descriptions to list the attributes and skills that spoke to me. It was this act of writing and picking top traits that allowed me to decipher the criteria for future teammates that were actually important to me (hunger, moxie, and monster work ethic) and outweighed a list of competencies.

Communicate your values in your job posts

If you look at any of our job postings you’ll see how much we have to say about our existing culture and the passion we demand from each role. You can clearly sense that we’re looking for champions who are going to bust ass to be the best at their jobs, not a workhorse who clocks in and out each day to collect a paycheck. You can also see examples of what I mentioned before, which is that skills are important but personal drive is emphasized overall because that’s what we value the most. By clearly outlining the mindset and the personality traits that are beneficial, you’re going to attract the right individuals.

Work closely with talent managers

So much of how we’ve been able to successfully rebuild the inDinero staff came from my involvement in the process. As CEO, I consider myself a part of our talent team and I ensure we are as effective as possible when hiring. Even if you outsource your staffing needs, be sure that your recruiters know a lot about you and can speak to your vision and the qualities you admire–personally and professionally.

Do your due diligence to follow up with all interviewers. Consider their pros and cons and what stood out to them in their meetings. Pose critical questions and make sure your team is answering honestly. We’re built on the concept of “all team, same team”, so I feel it’s essential to get buy-in from multiple players. At the same time, we never want to settle so I apply firm pressure on all hiring decision makers. Before we had this system we had some close calls and hired a few folks that talked a big game but flopped when they hit the court. Those mistakes come with a big price and our hiring managers now know that their reputations are at stake each time they send a candidate through to the next round.

Gather information (and lots of it!)

This goes beyond interviewing and checking references. I realized that not everyone could interview well and by giving people other chances (tests, surveys, projects, etc.) I could see how they handle actual scenarios that relate more to their work performance.

This starts from the application process where we ask more questions about job history, personal passions, workflow, style, and other aspects of their life that might not be on their resume/cover letter or come up in an interview. As we move forward we ask more questions, get more samples, and listen to stories about their work. The right candidates are forthcoming with information and see it as a bonus opportunity to impress us and toot their own horn. The better picture we get of their achievements and success, the more we can see how their history can benefit our future.

Personally meet candidates before you hire them

Applicants for each role at inDinero complete at least three to four interviews, starting with the talent manager, hiring manager, technical/culture screening and then finally with me. Since the beginning, I’ve been involved in the interview process and while recently that’s gotten more challenging, to this day, I still do as many final interviews as I can. That’s not to say our recruiting team hasn’t given me push back for slowing down the hiring process. Do I do this because I have control issues or lack trust? No, I do this strictly to ensure quality and because I am genuinely interested in each person I employ.

By this stage, it’s less about finding the right candidate and more as a way to ensure my recruiters aren’t getting complacent after finding so many winners. I care deeply about making every department at inDinero as successful as possible and with each one growing exponentially at the same time, it’s important for me to be a net, company-wide. Our hiring squad is no exception, and while they’ve proven to have the exceptional ability pick out top talent, we’re all still learning as we grow.

So what’s the number one thing I look for when hiring?

Drive and Passion. Someone who is clearly enthusiastic about what they are doing. There are experienced people out there just clocking in for their paycheck and only focus on their job for career’s sake. As you can probably tell, we’re not interested in that.

When I started inDinero, I didn’t do it because I was some accountant looking to make a few dollars in dot com. Not even close. I was a dreamer who saw ideas that couldn’t get off the ground. I identified the major roadblocks and ventured deeper looking to find a solution. Inspiration and purpose beat preparation, so I don’t want to see candidates who just check boxes. I want teammates who have the hunger and cojones to do whatever it takes to get the job done without excuses.

Download The Entreocracy Manifesto by Jessica Mah, CEO of inDinero

About the author
“Jessica

Jessica Mah

As Product Architect and CEO, Jessica loves helping entrepreneurs run better businesses. She studied Computer Science at U.C. Berkeley and has been running businesses since she was 13. Jessica has been featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and Inc’s 30 Under 30 lists.


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