how to hire the right personEver made that dreadful mistake of hiring the wrong person?

It sucks right?

That moment you realize that an employee is not a right fit is like a ball dropping into your stomach.

Because you had such a lovely positive momentum going…

And now you’ll have to spend a lot of time and money into making sure this is set straight.

By elaborate talking, training, coaching or – gasp – even firing her!

And all because you really only wanted to give someone the benefit of the doubt…



When you know how to hire the right person, you can uplift yourself and your business in just the right way. The right people on your team help you make sure you get to do more of what you love and make more money whilst doing so.

Hiring the wrong person on the other hand, can not only harm your business’s name and money-making opportunities but it will cost you all your energy and the positive flow required to be happy with what you do day in and day out.

Of course, this works the other way round as well; if your business is not right for that person it will cause her friction and energy as well.

You could be up for a difficult time if you don’t make the right choices in the hiring process!

Let’s make it very clear though that someone who is wrong for your business is not necessarily a bad/stupid person in general or even bad in her job. It means that it is not a right fit on 1 of these 3 levels:

  • Functionally: the content and/or execution of the work is not sufficient;
  • Culturally: the person does not fully embrace or embody your vision and values;
  • Personally: this person is – usually unconsciously – able to push all the wrong buttons making it hard to work with them.


So, what can you do to prevent this mistake from ever happening again?

Here are 7 tips on how to hire the RIGHT person for YOUR business:


1. Don’t Just Hire A Professional; Hire A PERSON.

Of course you’ll need to make sure all the functional requirements are in order (experience, education, important traits) but this does not necessarily tell you anything about the PERSON you want to hire.

The right person for the job does not have to be your new best friend; actually, it might even be preferable if this person is complementary to you and/or your existing team.

There is a whole field of research dedicated to the creation of the optimal team but as a relatively simple, though very effective, exercise you could do the Belbin test on team roles and discuss this in your team. Who fits where? Are there a lot of the same types in your team? What are you missing?

Based on this you’ll have a better understanding of what is necessary in your team and it will be easier sifting through resumes and interviews having this knowledge in the back of your head.

It will even make it easier to reject someone that seems like a good fit on paper as most people will completely understand that there needs to be a team fit as well.

Sidenote about rejecting people: always, always, always let people know if you’re not going to consider them for the job. They’ve taken the time to respond to your vacancy and they deserve something in return.

I usually have a standard email template ready that I then customise. It’s an investment in time but really just common decency.


2. Attract The RIGHT Person.

hiring the right personThis all depends on creating the right job description, posting it in the right places and ensuring your network understands and feels who or what you’re looking for.

Be sure to voice your vision and mission clearly and sprinkle in the values you hold highly.

Filtering out job applicants can be tedious and painful so make sure your description is really clear! If you’re looking for someone who is just starting out in the market because of the energy, the age and the money, make sure this is well described or you will have to let down some really good people.

I’ve had to reject dozens of really skilled and experienced people because of this mistake once and trust me…it’s no fun!

Also make sure to add a personal touch: a client of mine plays Mario Kart with the team every lunch. My brothers’ startup have quite the heavy duty foosball competition going on if they’re not having meetings in the ball pit…it’s not necessarily culture, but it is something a person should feel comfortable with.

Oh and, the rest of the team needs to feel comfortable with that person too of course!


3. Master The Art Of The Job Interview (YOUR Way)

There are a few traps people fall in when conducting job interviews.


  • Talking more about yourself and the company than listening to the candidate.
  • Assuming a very authoritative role that is completely out of character.
  • Only asking yes or no questions.
  • Sticking to what you’ve learned back in the day. Like that you HAVE to ask questions like: “where do you see yourself in 5 years” or “what are your 3 best and worst characteristics”.
  • Getting carried away in the conversation and forgetting to ask some of the most important questions.
  • Not giving any feedback or at least not on the promised dates.
  • Etc.


Because the hiring process is already a very time consuming task you’d better make sure that you DON’T step into these pitfalls and that you DO get the most out of each and every interview.

Meaning that every interview needs to give you (and the candidate) all the information necessary in way that is efficient, fun and fitting to YOUR business. After all, you want to make sure you hire the right person in the least amount of time.

I’ve created a cheatsheet that you can download for free exactly for this purpose:


4. Go For The Cultural Fit.

A cultural fit is more important than a fit on skills!

Just because someone is really good at something, that does not mean she will fit in the business well. In the long-term it will cost you both much more energy to work together than you will have in benefits.

Moz’s Rand Fishkin voices this really well with the following table.  

  Hiring cultural fit


Check out Rand Fishkin’s blog for more great articles on hiring (or all other things startup). He’s definitely in my line of thought and vision and has built up a great experience set to speak from.    


5.  Motivation And Energy Trump Experience And Knowledge.

Linked to the above (the upper left quadrant) – and contrary to popular belief – motivation and positive energy towards the job at hand is also more important than skills.

When I’m looking to hire the right person, I’d sooner go for someone who is supermotivated but at an 80% capability level than someone who is at 100% but with less energy towards the job at hand or the business. It’s very likely that this person will either get bored or get arrogant.

Of course someone who is at 100% and has high energy to transfer this knowledge or add new relevant skills is a great asset to your company!

A ‘funny’ way to test commitment to the job is to give them €1000 to not take it after the first week…. I’ve heard of a company that uses this method to filter out the people who are just in it for the money. Of course, you’ll need to be willing and able to take this risk but it makes sense…in the long-term hiring the wrong people will cost you probably a whole lot more money.  


6. Trust Your Gut. Always!

Even if you’ve taken all the notes above into account and the person seems like a good fit. If you’re gut tells you that something is off…

Then it probably is!!!

And the golden rule for hiring is:

When in doubt; don’t do it.

Or at least propose a deal to make it easier for you both to step away from each other after one or two months. Or start out with just 1 trial week and see how it goes from there.

Mind you, when you are in doubt, especially on a cultural or personal level, this does not mean that the other person is not a good fit for the job!

But it does mean that you will have to come a long way to trust that person. And that might just take up too much energy in a small business.

So far, pretty much everyone I doubted right from the start turned out to be a bad fit and costing me way more time and energy than I tried to save by hiring fast…  


7. Don’t Let Your Ego Get In The Way.

This is a tricky one!

Because, yes, you need to listen to your gut, but, you also need to make sure it is indeed your GUT telling you the truth and not your EGO playing tricks on you…

If you’ve run or build your business for a long time it can be hard to let go of some of the pride that comes along with it.

For example, after all those hours spent on learning and crafting your perfect brand voice on your website and social media, it can be really hard to let the social marketing responsibility go.

Especially to someone who is better at it than you are…

This is were you will need to let go of some of your personal involvement and therefore that part of you ego that is hanging on to it. Remember that the other person is not your rival and the RIGHT person will even be in awe of how far you’ve gotten in that particular field without any prior knowledge (or at least not judge you for screwing things up).

But, you are hiring someone new to bring your business to new heights and the dead weight of your ego will only be in the way.    


Getting new people on board a team is always exciting and refreshing. It brings new life, new perspective, new skills and knowledge.

All things that are more than welcome, especially in a small business.

But…when it’s not the right match, all those benefits will be washed away and leave you with an employee you’ll have to fire and a bad taste in your mouth.

Making sure you hire the right person for your business is not easy; there are only a handful of champions out there.

But as your business is dependent on people, not taking care of this is simply throwing money down the drain!

Don’t you think?  


P.s. don’t forget to make your life a little bit simpler by downloading the Job Interview cheatsheet: