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James River Capital’s 5 tips to hiring well

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Photo Credit: Kalawin /iStock Photo

Hiring is a task that many employers dread. While hiring can be time-consuming, it’s still important to hire the right people from the start if you want a successful, healthy business with longevity.

In fact, one bad hire can cost your business $17,000 a year. Whether it’s poor work quality, a sour attitude, or an inability to work with a team, bad hires lower morale and limit your business’s potential. In this guide, James River Capital, and Founder, Paul Sanders, share five tips for employers to hire the right person for the job—every time.

About James River Capital & Paul Sanders

Along with his business partner, Paul Sanders acquired James River Capital back in 1995. In the 25 years since founding the company, Paul has served as CEO and Chairman of the Richmond, Virginia, company.

Today, Paul puts his 30+ years of experience in finance to work for James River Capital’s clients. Using alternative investments, James River Capital attempts to optimize investments for both risk and returns.

With decades of experience in leadership, Paul has conducted more than his fair share of interviews. See how Paul avoids bad hires by streamlining the hiring process with these 5 tips.

5 Tips to Hire the Best Person for the Job

  1. Don’t Rely on Paper

Resumes and applications are essential for the hiring process, but they aren’t the be-all, end-all. Just because someone looks qualified doesn’t mean they’re right for the job. You still have to assess their personality, culture fit, and soft skills.

Don’t get hung up on the candidate’s work history, either. For example, have you ever eliminated someone from your candidate pool because they were out of the workforce for five years? People have very good reasons for not working. Maybe they’re raising their children, they had an illness, or they were caring for a family member. The resume won’t tell you the whole story.

The best way to see if an employee’s skills (both hard and soft) are up to par is to do a trial run with them. This way you can see the candidate in action. This could take the form of:

  • A paid mini project, like graphic design or web development work.
  • Client meetings or sales calls.
  • Half-day projects with the team.
  1. Evaluate Culture Fit

Culture fit can make or break your hiring. You can hire the most talented employee in the world, but if their personality doesn’t jive with the organizational culture, everyone suffers.

Paul advises that it is important to make sure a potential candidate fits from a personality perspective.  Companies can create a questionnaire about the applicants’ dynamics working on a team, communication style, personality, and values.

The best way to attract the right culture fit is to make your culture known, loud and clear. For example, everyone knows Google’s company culture; uptight employees who like to wear suits wouldn’t do well at a flip flop-loving tech company. Candidates can pre-screen themselves out of the process if they understand your culture before they even apply.

  1. Practice Collaborative Hiring

Two heads are better than one when it comes to hiring. You need an employee who’s a good fit for your team. But if your team isn’t involved in the hiring decision, they don’t have a chance to give their feedback. What if you hire someone who doesn’t play well with your existing employees? You automatically have a problem on your hands.

Instead, never hire alone. Every candidate should be interviewed by a minimum of two people in your organization (but ideally more). That doesn’t mean you have to have five separate interviews; you can try committee-led interviews, too.

When it’s time to choose a candidate, give everyone a seat at the table. Multiple decision makers might increase the amount of time it takes to hire, but you can rest assured that you’ll hire a better fit. James River Capital takes a collaborative approach for hiring.

  1. Take Your Time

If your all-star employee just put in their two weeks’ notice, you might feel pressured for time. It’s rare that a good hire happens in just a few days, though. It takes time to get a hire right and you’ve got to take your time to make sure it’s right.

Pressured for time, you’re more likely to gloss over red flags. You might even forget critical steps, like reference checks that could easily eliminate subpar candidates from your pool. The result is hiring a bad employee who probably won’t work out.

Accept that you aren’t going to find a replacement in two weeks. It’s hard to slow down and take your time as work piles up, but that’s business. Distribute the workload across your team and bring on contract help if it’s too much to handle. Your patience will pay off.

  1. Ask Meaningful Questions

Google made interview questions like, “How many ping pong balls fit in a bus?” famous. While it’s amusing to watch people try to answer these silly questions, this won’t tell you a lot about a candidate. Paul comments that he finds simply asking good questions related to a potential employee’s skills, job history, and how they’ll fit in at your company can give a good idea of whether a candidate will fit.

Choose your interview questions carefully. They should help you get an idea of a candidate’s personality, skills, and experience as it pertains to the job. Don’t ask irrelevant or personal questions that don’t relate to the job at hand. You’ll eliminate good candidates by asking the wrong questions.

The Bottom Line

One bad hire can cost your organization thousands of dollars in lost productivity. Invest in your talent right now and they’ll take care of you in the long run. That’s the one thing Paul Saunders and James River Capital say they have learned after decades of team management. Follow these five tips to hiring the right people for the job and your team and your bottom line will be better for it.


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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