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Hiring, and more specifically hiring well, is one of the most important factors when growing a successful business. It’s a fairly obvious observation, and one I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times.
When you’re at that pivotal stage of moving from a start-up to a fully fledged organisation, it’s even more critical to get the right people on board.
But who are these, ‘right people’? And how can you shape a hiring process that helps you identify both the skills you need, and the personality and attitude that fits your culture?
While I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, I can at least let you in on how we do it here at Dixa.
Okay, so I hear some of you saying, ‘What is a Dixa?’
Dixa is a Copenhagen-founded tech company that’s on a mission to build friendships between brands and their customers, through conversational customer service software.
That’s a bit of a mouthful, but ultimately we want to develop a product that eliminates bad customer service worldwide. No mean feat, huh? We believe that brands should treat their customers like friends, not transactions; because customers have more options than ever before and they care how they’re treated. They want to be seen, heard, and valued, just like a friend.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Ultimately we want to develop a product that eliminates bad customer service worldwide
Our vision is to create a world in which all people are welcomed by their favourite brands with the warm familiarity of a friend. And this is an attitude that runs through everything at Dixa – it’s in the way we behave with our colleagues, it’s how we treat our customers, it’s ingrained in our company culture, and (did you see this part coming?) it’s also in our hiring process.
Culture is Crucial
So, now that we’re back on the hiring train, let me tell you a bit about how we put that into practice at Dixa.
There are so many things I could discuss here, but I know you don’t want to read something that’s 30 pages long so I’ll stick to the following main topics:
- How we know what we need
- How we identify who fills that need
Full disclaimer, this is certainly still a work in progress (and always will be something that we improve and iterate on as we go).
How We Know What We Need
Someone who fits with our Culture
Culture is one of the most important assets a company has to offer in this increasingly competitive hunt for talent. So, it’s something we work hard on, and care deeply about. Once you can determine what your culture is – those shared values, beliefs, and behaviours that everyone identifies with – you can translate it into tangible qualities to assess in your hiring process. (FYI a tangible quality is not asking yourself if you’d go for a beer with them…)
Those ‘right people’ for us need to fit into our culture and help it evolve in a positive way.
Our culture is made up of a million intangible things and is ever evolving, so it can seem quite complex at times. But it’s held together quite simply by our core values and our passion for achieving the mission we’ve set out.
Those ‘right people’ for us need to fit into our culture and help it evolve in a positive way. The values we’ve chosen to nurture at Dixa are transparency, inclusion, encouragement, community, growth, and influence.
Practically speaking, that means we look for people with different perspectives; people who aren’t afraid to speak their mind and tell the truth; people who care about lifting other people up rather than pushing them down; people who have crazy ideas, but also accept when their ideas were a total flop; people who learn from their mistakes; people who listen to others; people who have passion for their work, and are driven to make a difference in their field.
Oh yeah, that other pretty important thing. When it comes to identifying the skills that we need in a person, we look at where in the team we have gaps in our knowledge. What do we not already know? What can we not already achieve? Which targets have we missed and why? Which skills will take us to the next level within this space? We don’t want to replicate the people we already have. We don’t want to hire ourselves. We want to hire people who can do the stuff we can’t, or at least do it better than us, so that we can be a stronger team together.
We don’t want to replicate the people we already have. We don’t want to hire ourselves. We want to hire people who can do the stuff we can’t
It’s important to emphasise the focus here on skills, not experience. Of course most of the time these things go hand in hand, but sometimes people with a bunch of experience haven’t obtained the exact skills that we need, and sometimes people with hardly any experience have gained those skills quickly and have more ambition to learn. So we don’t focus on setting out an ideal profile with a number of years experience, but more the attitude, talents, and abilities of the person.
How We Identify What We Need
A hiring process that works for Us
My personal belief is that there is no one-size-fits-all hiring process. A hiring process can be simple or complex, short or long, involve a bunch of people or only a couple. Every company has to find a process that works for them to effectively evaluate what they need, and that embodies the culture that they have.
One thing that DOES FIT ALL, however: Candidate experience.
I’m a firm believer that your process and communications should mirror your company culture as much as possible, therefore giving candidates an insight into the organisation’s way of working.
Here at Dixa, where we are all about friendships, we want to treat candidates with the kindness, honesty, respect, and transparency that we would give our friends.
your process and communications should mirror your company culture
We’ve tried to build a process here that is friendly and welcoming, and as clear as possible. Sure, nobody’s perfect, and it can always be improved – which is why we also encourage people to be honest with us when it comes to giving feedback so we can keep doing what’s working, and learn from our mistakes.
Our Actual Process
The process we’ve built at Dixa is a combination of conversational, behavioural and situational interviews over the phone and in person, a personality and skills evaluation stage, and multiple references. We reveal a lot of details about the company and role during the process because being transparent about the fun stuff, the stuff that needs fixing, the exciting trajectory we’re on and the big challenges we need to overcome to get there gives candidates a real impression of who we are and what we’re doing.
This combination of friendly, transparent, and structured conversations addressing the main skills and behavioural traits we want to find in a candidate, with more in depth technical / skills based testing and personality testing, gives us that wide range of insights into how a candidate will fit with our culture and how well they will perform in the role. That combined with taking multiple references helps us to paint a better picture of who this person will be at Dixa, and where they can grow with us, along with providing those same insights to the candidate.
It also ensures that we are not making judgements that are biased, emotional, too focused on the technical or the cultural parts, or based on whether interviewers liked the candidate or not.
We are growing a lot, and often when companies experience these high volume hiring periods, company culture can suffer. We don’t want that! That’s why although we would love to build the team as fast as humanly possible – we also are willing to be patient to find those ‘right people’ for us, rather than rushing too much and risking negatively affecting our team.
As once quoted by Richard Branson, Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai said: “It’s better to have a hole in your team than an asshole in your team!”