How would you hire if you could never fire?

February 18, 2016

In my last posts I introduced you to the company Next Jump, who promises to never fire anyone. Meaning if they invite you onboard, you are promised lifelong employment. Whereas Next Jump is unique in their commitment to not firing, I find that all conscious companies share the approach to recruitment that they hire for life.

This mind-set is very much reflected in their way of recruiting.  I find that they distinguish themselves from traditional companies in particularly 3 ways:

  • They focus primarily on cultural fits, using their interviews to uncover values and personal development rather than technical skills and practical experience
  • They look for a family member – not a resource – and need someone they can help grow and who wants to contribute to the purpose of the organization
  • They have their recruitment process in order, because they cannot afford making educated guesses.

This is far from the reality of most hiring situations. A friend recently reminded me of how bad recruiting is in many companies. She is going for job interviews these days, and shared her recent horror stories, which are all too common but still makes my toes curl in horror. Just ‘little things’ like being told to prep for one thing before the interview, and then asked for something completely different in the interview; three people showing up to interview, but clearly not collectively prepared about the shared objectives and questions to ask; an interviewer who was clearly not present, but banging his pen to the table every second, not being able to hold eye contact; suddenly changing the profile of the candidate after a string of interviews, due to internal disagreements, and deciding to re-start the process. The list goes on.

My friend fortunately has neither rush nor desire to join a dysfunctional ‘family’. But one wonders about the success of recruiting with the frivolous approach many companies display when inviting new people into their organization.

Protecting culture
One of the reasons that conscious companies are different is that they cannot afford to treat recruiting like this. They have something very precious and important at stake when they hire new people. They have a culture – and a family – to protect.

The culture is the bedrock of the company’s success. Conscious companies are known for value driven cultures, and treating employees incredibly well. Getting a person onboard, who is not a cultural fit, can do irreparable damage to the organization. Prior to implementing their no-fire policy Next Jump learned this the hard way:

People over skills

Conscious companies screen for cultural fit to ensure continuous success of the company, and focus closely on values rather than prior technical or practical experience. Companies with a more traditional management culture focus mostly on education and experience. But the thing is if people are motivated enough, they can pretty much learn anything. And conscious companies know this, and already expect to invest in their employees. What matters to these companies is finding good human beings, and how they apply themselves and their values to their work.

Different values same mind-set
What values the companies look for differ. For instance, Daniel Lubetzky, CEO for the fast growing snack company Kind, which for the past 5 years have grown 111% annually, among others look for commitment and introspection in a person; the ability to analyze oneself and to be self-critical as well as comfortable receiving feedback. At Next Jump they among others look for humility, drive and the ability to give back to others. And at FirstUnited Bank in the US, they among others look for integrity.

Practical skills and experience are quite easy to test for, assess and recognize but identity and personal values is a different story. This requires a well-thought out interview processes, which really allows you to get to know the candidate. At FirstUnited, a purpose driven bank in the US, they have done what many conscious companies do, develop their own culture fit tools to use for recruiting – also keeping in mind that the candidate might not want to work fo an organization, which is so focused on and driven by values:

Personal stories matter most
At Next Jump, they have a similar approach. People will among others go through 3 interviews that focus solely on the cultural fit in terms of the personal traits and values, and which each have their unique value focus. And according to Kevin McCoy it all comes down to personal stories and the ability to read through these personal stories, getting to know the good things that come out of them, and what the red flags are – and dig into these red flags. You cannot show up unprepared and completely non-present for an interview like that. Or you have just caused yourself a lot of trouble.

Over time Next Jump has developed a series of questions resembling more a coaching session than your average, traditional job-interview. And particularly graduates go through an entire day of recruiting with other candidates, which lasts 10 hours. They go through interviews, learn about the company, go through tests. And at the end of the day, there is a group challenge where they get to work in groups with competing candidates on a presentation. They will be thrown some curveballs to test how well they work with others, and as Kevin McCoy says “It is really interesting that someone who have been getting all great mars at the beginning of the day at the end of the day will be beginning to deteriorate towards the end and vice versa.” The point is that you get a much more complete impression of the person and how they interact with other people in situations that resemblance a work-situation, which you would never get in a job-interview.

 

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