What Constitutes A Great Hire

Randall Davey

 A very successful CEO of a for-profit business is renowned for making great hires. His process is long and arduous, but his reward is having tenured, satisfied senior leaders. He has taken up to a year to find the ideal fit, willing to limp along with interim staff or contract executives until he finds the right candidate. 

“There’s no secret sauce,” he said. “Making a great hire takes work, research, conversation and due diligence. I call my process ‘the Ten C’s’, and I’m not ashamed to admit none of these are original with me!” 

  1. I look for character. I want stand-up people, rich in integrity who are people of their word. I don’t tolerate employees who exaggerate, embellish, or lie. My reputation is on the line. 
  2. I examine credentials to see if their resume seems to square with the job I have in mind. I spend however much time it takes to talk about the roles and responsibilities, tasks, and objectives, as well as the company’s strategic plans to expose compatibility. 
  3. I demand credibility. I want key employees whose opinions and advice are grounded in research and experience, not made up on the fly or rooted in untested biases.” 
  4. I value collaboration. Ours is a team sport and I don’t have room for Lone Rangers. I want people who play well in the sandbox and are quick to apologize when they don’t. 
  5. I appreciate critical thinkers. I look for persons who feel strongly about their views and can debate their points of view without demonizing those with whom they disagree. 
  6. I need effective communicators, and by that, I mean people who actively listen, confirm what they think they hear, and then respond with clarity and conviction. 
  7. I cherish commitment and the initiative it takes to complete on an assignment. I want to know that my ‘A team’ can be counted on to do what they say they will do by when they say they will do it. When they can’t, I know I can count on them to renegotiate their commitment. 
  8. I look for culture fit. Someone can be incredibly gifted, bright, and fundamentally good but not a good fit for the culture of my team. (I’m thinking of one recruit who had to bring political commentary into every conversation we had. That was not a great hire, and he didn’t last long).
  9. Chemistry is non-negotiable. I must have chemistry with my direct reports. I must click with them and they with me. 
  10. Compensation is the last thing I focus on. I will reach to hire the right person. I see it as an investment in my firm. If they are worth their weight in gold, everyone wins. 

“While I methodically follow ‘the Ten C’s’ of hiring, there are two more things I want to know: I want the candidate to know the company’s core values and I want to know as much as I can about their personal values. My entire process may include multiple interviews over several days. That’s what it costs me to make a great hire.” 

Admittedly, it’s tempting to meet someone with whom you have chemistry, and over dinner offer them a key role in your company on the chance it will all work out to everyone’s satisfaction. The odds of that happening are about as good as winning at roulette in Las Vegas. If you have a yen to gamble, go to Vegas, but don’t hire anyone on a whim. 

Randall E. Davey, CAP® is a financial advisor with Guide Advisors, Inc. In certain circumstances, he may offer insurance as a sole proprietor or through Guide Advisors, Inc. Randall can be reached at randall.davey@guideadvisors.com or by phone at 206-486-2477. 

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