How to Hire – Introduction

An 8-part guide to absolutely everything you need to know to hire well.

Imagine you’re a parent. Would you be OK with an adult stranger moving in and joining your family?

Of course you wouldn’t; a family is sacred. That stranger could be a nutcase. They could hurt your children, steal your stuff, introduce values you don’t agree with.

A young company is no different. As the Founder/CEO, you’re in loco parentis, and it’s your job to hire well.

That said, I’ve met many who admit to not having much of a process when it comes to hiring. They prefer to keep it casual, hire by instinct, or worse, not get involved in the process at all.

This usually explains the kind of problems I’m brought into businesses to fix: not growing profitably or quickly enough, things breaking, unhappy customers, low performing or demotivated staff …

These are all organisational design problems.

It’s not that companies are necessarily hiring badly, because you can get lucky with gut hires.

It’s that hiring isn’t just about getting a bum on a seat to do a job. Hiring is an incredibly strategic decision that is the output of some (hopefully) very clever organisational design decisions. I write about more on this in ‘Scale first, hire later’ – it goes without saying that I think it’s worth a read.

If you’ve made the decision to hire, it’s because you need that hire to achieve long-term goals. 

So long as that’s true, you want to be sure you’re attracting the best talent with the right skills and values, and that you’ve established a clear framework for what “good” looks like.

Without doing this, you risk failure. There’s no point in having a clever plan in place without the right people to deliver on it.

In my experience, a poor approach to hiring is often down to:

  • Not understanding organisational design. 

  • Not knowing how to hire.

This guide is going to help you with the latter. 

A lot of the work I do involves coming into early-stage businesses for a fixed period, working through their organisation design, setting up their hiring processes, leading a few key hires and then coaching managers on how to carry it forward. What that looks like is different for each company, but there are plenty of principles and techniques that apply across the board.

Which is why I’ve pulled it all together into an 8-part guide.

I won’t lie, it’s long. 

Even I find myself wondering why I felt compelled to write 1500 words on creating a job description.

But in the last 15 years, I’ve hired over 150 people – that’s more than 1,500 phone screens, 750 skills interviews, and 300 cultural interviews (this might explain my drinking habit). I’ve learnt a lot, the long way, and I want to share what I’ve learned.

When I’ve spent time sharing my approach to hiring with managers, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact it can have (almost immediately). They start enjoying hiring, attracting higher-calibre candidates, making better and quicker hiring decisions, seeing performance improve, spending less time and money on hiring, experiencing less churn …

It’s a pretty cool “yay” moment.

I’ve tried to make this guide as practical and instructional as possible. Less “concepts”, more “this is what you need to do and how”.

But that doesn’t change the fact it’s still an 8-part guide to hiring.


Read on to Part 1 – Job Description

All parts:

Introduction, Part 1 – Job Description, Part 2 – Agent Briefing, Part 3 – Phone Screen, Part 4 – Skills Interview, Part 5 – Cultural Interview, Part 6 – Offer, Part 7 – References, Part 8 – Candidate Experience.

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