5 Ways to Use ‘Lean’ Methodology to Hire the Best People

TL;DR Summary

Get interviewees inside the real context of your business and your team immediately, and see how they perform. You’ve got an hour of their time – don’t waste it talking about the past. Get them working immediately. You’ll have a better understanding of their current capabilities in the context of your company. Sound odd? That’s how Google currently hires people, after scrapping their famous puzzle-based hiring process.

I’ve been on both sides of interviews. I’ve also read about Google’s struggles with their hiring practices. They learned that all of their puzzles and efforts really didn’t result in better employees – it really just resulted in a famously obtuse interview process. If Google failed at this, chances are you will too. Here’s my thoughts on interviews that suss out better employees.

1. Don’t ask people to work for free. It sets the wrong tone.

2. Just as Lean methodology looks to understand and improve on the current state, bring people in and immediately start working on a problem that you’re experiencing right now. Note what questions they are asking. What do they want to know before they get started? How are they interacting with the various personalities on the team? How do they fight for what they believe? Do they hold too strongly to positions, or are they flexible when they learn new information?

3. Lean looks at workers as a team with shared values. Don’t ask them if they were solely responsible for work. No one who works as part of a team is solely responsible for their work. They were part of a group, and worked in a hierarchy. Decisions are team decisions, and work gets done in that context. Understand what their role was, and how they worked within this role to make incremental improvements to process and product.

4. Lean values conflict as a path to improvement. Ask them how they decided what to fight for. Conflict uses up social capital. It also depends on trust. Too much conflict leads to silos. Too little doesn’t produce the best work. Try and understand why they fight, and why it’s worth the effort.

5. Lean improvements work within the current context to make improvements. Ask them about the context in which they were working. Who were the customers? What problem were they solving? What was the history of the business? What was it’s growth strategy etc. Good employees know this stuff. Doesn’t matter the position. Everyone should know the waters in which the company swims.

 

 

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