Hiring For Long-Term Success

| September 26, 2016 | By
Hiring For Long-Term Success

As a business owner, you can’t do it all alone. One of the most critical assets for scaling your business is your team—but how you do you make sure you’ve got the right one in place?

We always hear that it’s important to hire early, before your tasks begin to overflow into an uncontrollable avalanche. But it’s also important to make the right hires, as the wrong ones can cost you.

According to a survey by Career Builder, 41% of companies say a bad hire has cost them more than $25,000, while 24% say that cost ballooned to upwards of $50,000!

We’ve hired dozens of employees through the years here at Ignite Spot, and we’ve identified three key areas to focus on beyond a candidate’s skills and references. By making sure you and a potential new hire are aligned in these three arenas, you’ll set both parties up for an enjoyable and successful long-term relationship.



Let’s say you’re hiring for a management position at your B2C footwear store. Your goal is to find someone who can aggressively spearhead sales through the upcoming holiday season.

You get two resumes. One is from a longtime office manager with all the technical skills you could ask for: knowledge of your CRM system, management experience, 20 years in the workforce.

The other is from a recent college grad without much practical experience, but a resume of diverse and interesting projects: student government leadership, fundraising for charitable causes, planning and executing events.

Which do you choose? Practical wisdom tells you to go with the former, but in reality, the latter may be better suited to achieve your goal. The reason? Potential.

Talent and leadership expert Claudio Fernández-Aráoz identifies potential as the ability to adapt to and grow into increasingly complex roles and environments. Though the 20-year office manager has loads of experience, he likely has his own established ways of doing things and might even be complacent with accepting the status quo.

That’s not going to drive sales past a plateau.

The college grad, on the other hand, is eager and enthusiastic to jump into something new. He’s not boxed in by a set of norms or existing expectations, because he doesn’t have any yet. His potential to adapt is greater, and experts say that makes him a better choice.

And before you go pointing the “ageist” finger at us, it’s not just about being young and green. Potential to adapt is a mindset.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Fernández-Aráoz writes, “I now consider potential to be the most important predictor of success at all levels, from junior management to the C-suite and the board.”


Values are the core set of beliefs that your business revolves around. They define not what you do (accounting, sales, what have you) but how you do it.

Values might be concepts like “customer service comes first” or “all ideas are welcome.” When hiring, it’s up to you to identify whether a candidate’s values match yours. If they’re not in alignment, you’re quickly going to butt heads about how the job is done.

You can identify whether your values match up by asking open ended questions where the candidate defines what matters most to him or her. For example:

“What accomplishment are you most proud of? Why?”

“Tell me about something that really frustrates you.”

“What are the top three qualities you’re looking for in a workplace?”

The answers to these questions will quickly show you gaps where a candidate’s priorities don’t quite align with yours.

Need help identifying your own values? Buffer has a great case study on how they identified key values by crowdsourcing input from their team, plus 7 examples from other companies that might inspire you.

Culture fit


The last and final area is perhaps the most obscure and trickiest to pin down: culture fit. Simply put, is an employee going to fit in on a personal level with the rest of your team?

Maybe Jim has all the right skills on paper, but if he hates mindless humor, he’s not going to enjoy the company-wide email thread of cat memes that circulates every Friday afternoon. Conversely, someone who’s inherently laid back might not fit well with an office of by-the-book, suit-wearing professionals.

This is what’s meant by culture fit, and research shows it’s important. Employees who feel that they fit well in their work environments are happier with their jobs, perform better and stay with companies longer than those who feel like they don’t fit in.

Of course, you never really know what a person will be like to work with until you actually work with them. But you can get a handle on culture fit by conducting more than just your typical job interview.

Instead of asking a round of questions and calling it a day, have a potential candidate spend time with a few different members of your team. This might mean having coffee with your marketing director, sitting in on a planning meeting with the art team, or going to lunch with the CFO.

The goal isn’t for all of these people to interview the candidate, but to spend one-on-one time in a “day in the life” scenario to learn more about what the person is like. At the end of the day, powwow with your team to hear their feedback.

By focusing on hires with potential, matching values and good culture fit, you’ll be more likely to land an employee who not only does their job well, but one who will be with you for the long haul.

What are your best strategies for hiring good employees? Tell us by leaving a comment below!

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Additional Resources

Human resources executive Regina Hartley discusses why the perfect candidate might not have the best resume.