Every famous entrepreneur has built a flourishing company with great employees by his or her side. Business founders cannot grow an enterprise singlehandedly. Some may try, but it is nearly impossible to do so. An entrepreneur can begin with an idea and begin to commercialize it alone. In time, however, the tasks become too great for one person to manage. It’s at this moment a savvy and thoughtful leader will look to find and hire the best workers to help achieve the dream.

In today’s economy, hiring the best people is more important than ever. Entrepreneurs can't afford to lose time, money and desired results because of a bad choice. There are many expenses associated with finding, interviewing, engaging and training new employees. There are also additional costs for desks, computers and related equipment to perform a task. Add to this a salary with benefits and taxes. With this in mind, leaders should always view new employees as an investment and anticipate an excellent financial return, over time, from each worker.

Over the course of my career, I’ve hired hundreds of people. Some were exceptional employees who were major contributors to our success; others just didn’t work out. In most cases, when an employee left or was terminated, I was the problem. Those dismissed were good people, I just did not know how to properly hire new employees.

Wishing to do a better job at this task, I have been a student, over the years, seeking information on how I might improve the hiring process. Today, I am pleased to share with you what I have learned.

Historically and sadly, the only criteria I had used to hire someone were that the prospective candidate had the best skills, experiences and ability to match a job description. As I look back on this approach, I note with new wisdom that it was a good place to start the process, but was far from the end. I have since discovered there are six more categories you need to address in order to hire the best new employee. I suggest an entrepreneur gather and consider information from each job applicant in each of the following areas:

  • Competence: This is still the first factor to consider. Does the potential employee have the necessary skills, experiences and education to successfully complete the tasks you need performed?
  • Capability: Will this person complete not only the easy tasks, but will he or she also find ways to deliver on the functions that require more effort and creativity? For me, being capable means the employee has potential for growth and the ability and willingness to take on more responsibility.
  • Compatibility: Can this person get along with colleagues and, more importantly, can he or she get along with existing and potential clients and partners? A critical component to also remember is the person’s willingness and ability to be harmonious with you, his or her boss. If the new employee can’t, there will be problems.
  • Commitment: Is the candidate serious about working for the long term? Or is he or she just passing through, always looking for something better? A history of past jobs and time spent at each provides clear insight on the matter.
  • Character: Does the person have values that align with yours? Are they honest, and do they tell the truth and keep promises? Are they above reproach? Are they selfless and a team player?
  • Culture: Every business has a culture or a way that people behave and interact with each other. Culture is based on certain values, expectations, policies and procedures that influence the behavior of a leader and employees. Workers who don't reflect a company's culture tend to be disruptive and difficult.
  • Compensation: As the employer, be sure the person hired agrees to a market-based compensation package and is satisfied with what is offered. If not, an employee may feel unappreciated and thereby under perform. Be careful about granting stock in the company; if not handled well, it will create future challenges.

Job applicants will give you their answers to the seven categories. They may be modestly presented or exaggerated. You are searching for the truth. To obtain a clearer picture on potential workers, I recommend you talk to former employment associates. Don’t accept any other types of references. An entrepreneur should not accept the list of friendly references a job candidate provides. Said names are generally acquaintances that will provide a biased report. Instead, the owner should ask the job applicants for the names of former bosses, peers and subordinates.

I'm here to tell you these people will share the truth and not mince words. With these names in hand, call the former co-workers and ask them to share with you if the job applicant was competent, capable, compatible, committed, had character, fit the culture and was happy with the company’s compensation. By doing this, a leader will obtain a full and accurate view, good and bad, of an individual and will be better able to select the best candidate.

For more detailed information about hiring employees or for an e-book on the seven C's of hiring that you can download for free, please visit www.alanehall.com.

Do you have further experience in hiring you would like to share, or do you have a hiring question for me? Contact me at www.AlanEHall, or send me a message at @AskAlanEHall.

Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is the Chairman of the Utah Technology Council.