A simple framework to hire smarter

Who you hire is one of the most critical decisions every manager faces. It’s also one of the most difficult.

Who you hire is one of the most critical decisions every manager faces. It’s also one of the most difficult. The crazy thing? No one ever actually teaches us how to do it. Maybe you’ve slept through an interview training video if you work at a big company, likely focused on the Don’ts (and the legal ramifications thereof) but leaving you to fend for yourself as far as the Do’s are concerned. So most of the time, when asked to run or join an interview, we wing it, which is not good. Improvised interviews—i.e., making it up as we go along—are known to introduce a ton of bias and can lead to devastating hiring mistakes. We’ve built WhoCo to fix that—our app gives you a top 1% hiring process grounded in data and best practices. But even if you don't plan to use WhoCo, this simple framework will significantly level up your hiring decisions. It’ll also, perhaps more importantly, help you avoid big hiring mistakes.

Go beyond one-dimensional job descriptions

Understanding that companies and people are multi-dimensional echoes throughout smart hiring. People have skills, values, interests, personalities, dreams. Companies have a mission, values, teams, gaps, goals, culture. But the way most companies look at candidates (and the way most candidates look at opportunities) is superficial. Consider the typical job description—flat, text-heavy, adjective-laden, bullet-point riddled—and ask yourself:

  • “How can a company require someone have 10+ years of experience with a coding language that's only been around for five years?” (Yes, we've seen this.)
  • “Is ‘work hard/play hard’ actually saying anything about our company culture?”
  • And more. Feast your eyes.

Companies cobble together hurried job descriptions just to get it done. They’re missing vast parts of their story (and probably the good parts).

The RTC Framework: hire for the role, the team, and the company

To know if someone's a good hire, you have to see if they're a good match across multiple dimensions, which is fricken hard! Referrals tend to produce successful hires because the referral source knows the candidate and company at a deeper level and can more accurately assess the match. It's also why contract-to-hire works so well. It allows a clearer picture of the candidate (and for the candidate, a real-life taste of the job) to make sure there's a match.

Wherever you find candidates, I want to give you a simple method to evaluate them and make better hiring decisions. At WhoCo, we call it the RTC Framework. The basic idea is that the right hire matches the role, the team, and the company.

  • Every Role has objectives and demands specific skills for achieving them. Some skills are needed on day one, and some can be learned on the job. Every role has a career path attached to it.
  • Every Team has members with different skills and personalities. It has its own distinct culture and work style.
  • Every Company has a mission and values and is at a particular stage (e.g., early-stage, growth stage, public).

When you're hiring, your objective is to map each candidate to where they sit in this diagram.

  • Perhaps someone's an excellent fit for the role but not suitable for the company or team. This would be a poor hire: the person wouldn't be happy at the company and would cause problems on the team.
  • What about a great fit for the role and team, but not quite right for the company? This candidate might make a good contractor, but they're not ideal as a long-term investment.
  • If you’ve found a role and company fit but someone who would clash with the team, file them away for future openings on another team.

It's important to note that different doesn't mean a poor fit. Different can be great! When someone has unique skills, they'll add depth and versatility to the team, making them a strong fit. And when someone brings the perspective of a diverse or underserved group, they'll contribute to the team and company, making them a killer fit.

Also, consider the influence of career paths on these dimensions. A candidate may have the perfect skill set for the role, but if they’re itching to level up to a new challenge, they might get bored quickly. In contrast, someone who's almost a fit and hungry to get to the next level might be a much stronger hire.

Making RTC actionable

Put the RTC Framework into action by making sure your job descriptions tell candidates what you’re looking for, and your interview process gives you a signal on the role, team, and company fit.

Your job description should help candidates answer the following questions: What objectives will the hiree accomplish? What skills will they need to succeed? What team will they work with and how will they integrate? What values bind your company and your employees together?

You have two choices with your interview process. You could plan specific interviews for each of the three areas—role fit interviews, team fit interviews and company fit interviews. Or, you can adapt your existing interview process to evaluate the skills, values, and attributes you’ve defined in the job description. Either way, the important thing is that your interviews help you understand a candidate’s role, team, and company fit.

Why this method works

There are two big reasons why this method results in better hiring decisions.

First, it forces you to think through the key things that will enable a strong candidate to succeed—so that you can include those things in the job description. This helps people self-screen and opt-in or out, so you start with a better pool of viable candidates.

Second, it adds structure to your interviews and to your hiring process as a whole, which makes your interviews twice as effective at predicting job performance. Instead of having each interviewer doing their own thing or, worse, having no clue what to do at all, the RTC framework gives each interviewer a goal, e.g., I am going to assess the candidate’s fit with our company by asking questions related to our values. Not only is each interview more focused, but all of your interviews will help paint a complete picture of how a candidate measures across these key dimensions.

Give it a shot

So the next time you're running a hiring process, remember to evaluate the RTC. Push yourself and your team to evaluate how well the person matches the role, your team, and your company. I promise this will guide you to make better hires and save you from the terrible headaches and heartaches of a hiring mistake.