Hiring Spirit-Part Two
I find that both managers and our customers fall into the trap sometimes of trying to find staff who are a perfect fit for the task at hand. "Get me some experienced bilingual engineers!" I'm told, "But don't be charging me full fare for them." Well, unfortunately, with the increasing influx of foreign firms wanting to take advantage of Japan's economic turn around, the demand for bilinguals has never been greater. And when demand exceeds supply you only have two options: pay more, or create more supply. The question is, as a manager, which is the best path to follow?
In my opinion, the answer boils down to whether you are a long-term thinker or not. If you are, then you will value loyalty, positive energy, and a motivated work group. If you are not, then you will value people who get the job done as requested then get out of the way. Coincidentally, you don't have to hire people to achieve that - you can get the same level of service from an outsourcing company or contractor.
Anyway, the long-term thinker knows that loyalty pays off. Some of my best employees have started as raw beginners and indeed several were initially refused jobs by existing managers who were intent on only hiring the "right people" and not giving due consideration to developing green staff. Yes, they take longer to produce revenue, but if you get it right, you get to train the person from scratch and develop a bond which can take you past recruiting offers and company downturns and produce a long-term profitable partnership.
Let's say that again. Loyalty buys you stability against raids by head hunters, competitors, and a falling economy.
So if I've convinced you to give inexperienced staff a go, how do you decide who to hire and who to pass on? I believe that when prospecting for gold, sometimes you have to let the instinctual entrepreneur in you take over. You can't be too scientific. When I am recruiting I try to see whether the person has native curiosity - which is so important for them to not only learn quickly but to learn mainly the RIGHT things quickly - thus allowing them to make faster progress than another trainee.
I also look to see whether they truly want the position and are prepared to jump through hoops to get it. One test I often give is to have the candidate produce a presentation for me in a second interview. Not only does this require an investment of time from them, having to learn, practice, then come all the way back into my office, but it also requires them to actually think about what they might be doing for a job.
Is it fair to put a candidate through this amount of effort? If you are just engaging in procrastination or delaying tactics while waiting for someone better, then it's not fair. Don't do it. However, if you sincerely have an interest in the person and need them to go that extra mile to prove their commitment, then test away. Indeed, I'm sure that you will find the experience very revealing. After a bit of practice, I've seen sweating, awkward candidates suddenly become presentation gurus, while initially smooth operators lose interest and move on to easier pastures.