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A few months ago my management team and I were discussing converting one our our talented interns into a full-time employee. As a small business, we don’t take this lightly at Riser. Our objective is to hire people who will be with us for a long time in a mutually beneficial relationship. As such, I did a little soul searching to determine our hiring strategy and landed on this analysis when considering adding a member to our team.

1. Does the candidate want to work at OUR company?

We are searching for people who love OUR company…not just looking for a job at ANY ol’ company. In most interviews we come right out and ask, “Why do you want to work at Riser?” It is shocking some of the answers we receive, “I need a job.” “Oh, is that the name of this company?” “I’ve been out of work for a while and I’m applying all over.” These are not the types of answers that land candidates jobs. We want to hear things about our business that caught their eye. We want to know that they did some research. We want people who want to work at OUR company. That is priority number one when we look for a new team member.

2. Does the candidate fit our culture?

We have a team of humble, service-minded, ambitious, non-dramatic, creative, smart, friendly, teachable, driven, funny, and quirky people. We assess, by their answers, whether the candidate will fit in with our team. Frankly, we just spend way too much time together to not like each other.

3. Is the candidate reliable?

Were they on time to the interview? Have they ever been fired from a previous job? Do they show evidence of being trustworthy and dependable? We dig into past work experience and look for any red flags that might show signs of them being unreliable.

4. Does the candidate have potential?

Very few candidates come into our company ready to hit the ground running. Our agency is unique in its client list and services. Rarely do we find a candidate who has been doing the type of cutting edge work that our clients (like Google, Disney, and National Geographic) push us to create. As a result, we have become talented in hiring based on potential. We look for a skill set foundation that we can build upon. We look for problem solving skills. We try to assess whether the candidate has the potential and desire to grow into what we need them to become.

5. Is the candidate ready to hit the ground running?

As I mentioned in item number four, it is rare to find a candidate that is ready to hit the ground running. However, if they have a resume filled with experience directly relating to what we do at our agency, it is a major bonus.

Throughout my career I have interview, employed, and managed hundreds of people. I have learned through numerous lessons that the order of these assessments is important.

Take number one and two for example. If the candidate wants to work out OUR company (Item 1) and fits our culture (Item 2), we can work with that regardless of how close their skills are to allowing them to hit the ground running (Item 5). We feel comfortable investing time and money training that person to become successful because there is a good chance that they will stick around. The company will love them. They’ll love the company. They will learn and grow in their career and contribute to the success and growth of the company over time. Win-win.

Reversing the order of the list and priority, and we find ourselves with high turnover and cultural downturns. For example, if we place highest priority on finding someone who is ready to hit the ground running (Item 5), but they aren’t quite an exact fit for our culture (Item 2) and they don’t really care whether they are working at our company or any ol’ company (Item 1), we often find ourselves parting ways with this individual for one reason or another in a much shorter time period.

Obviously, the ideal candidate marks high on all five items. And in the circumstances that led to writing this blog post, our new full-time RiSER team member is thriving in both personal growth and contribution to the company. Win-win.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.