How Do You Hire Amazing People? Start by Treating Them Like Humans

Hint: Talk salary up front.



This past year, RJMetrics has been very fortunate to be named among Philly’s Coolest Companies, Best Places to Work, Best Corporate Culture, and EY Entrepreneurs of the Year. These awards are flattering, but they are lagging indicators of success. Next year, whether we win trophies or not, the only way to build the best company possible and do right by our team will be to continue practicing one of our core beliefs: Put people first.

One of our core values at RJMetrics is “do the right thing”, known to our Team Members as “DTRT”. We built our recruitment process on the heels of the core values of our company, so it only made sense to use DTRT as our beacon. Below are a few of the ways that philosophy helps us attract and retain Philly’s best and brightest. I hope these ideas can help your business with its recruitment strategies.

  • Put them first. Reviewing hundreds of resumes and asking the same questions over and over can feel pretty repetitive, so it’s not surprising many interviewers lose touch with the perspective of their candidates. It is absolutely critical to fight this urge. At RJMetrics, we’ve trained our team to have a huge amount of respect for the interview process and every candidate they interact with. Remember, your candidates don’t have 20 interviews lined up — they may only have one. And to them, it’s the most important and stressful part of their day. This could be the job that they’ll have for the next 10 years, the thing that puts food on their tables, and the place they spend more time than anywhere else. Respect this and you’ll cultivate a positive reputation with everyone you encounter.
  • Find out what’s meaningful to them. Every interview at RJMetrics starts with a 15-minute conversation with me. This 15-minute call is the most valuable conversation I’ll have with a candidate, because it’s when I learn what’s most meaningful to them. As a company, this is how we learn how to attract this candidate to our organization, and additionally, what we’ll need to do to retain them in the future. We’ll discuss why they are looking, what they want and don’t want to do next, and what motivates them. Without understanding what’s most important to a candidate, you risk losing them all together. It could be at the offer stage, or it could be less than six months after they’ve joined your team.
  • Be transparent. We strive to be open and honest with every candidate we interact with. This is especially true when it comes to salary negotiation. Many companies choose to be ambiguous and leave compensation until the end of the process. With candidates lacking the confidence to discuss salary first, far too often companies find themselves at the offer stage with a candidate that’s outside of their budget. This is why I tackle compensation in my initial call. If a candidate’s salary requirements don’t align with our budget, I’ll let them know. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll part ways before they’ve invested too much time in our process. While they might be disappointed, you’ll earn their respect for not wasting their time.
  • Allow candidates to interview at their best. We designed our interview process with a focus on making candidates feel comfortable. This means suits aren’t expected and snack breaks are welcomed. Many companies have the goal of making a candidate as uncomfortable as possible and they accomplish this by utilizing stress techniques. This includes showing up late, asking confusing questions or using an aggressive tone. In my opinion, unless this type of pressure is something a candidate would experience daily in the position, it’s a useless vetting tactic that only results in a candidate shutting down. By utilizing these techniques, not only are you unfairly assessing a candidate, you’re also seriously jeopardizing your employment brand.
  • Embrace rejection. Pretty much everyone has experienced the dark side of the recruitment process. You applied for a position, interviewed on-site with the team, and never heard from the company again. Way too many companies do a horrendous job of conveying the news “thanks, but no thanks.” I’ve learned that candidates would much rather hear bad news, than no news at all. By respectfully declining a candidate, you have the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship that could ultimately benefit you in the future. At RJMetrics, we have more than half a dozen folks on our team that at one point were declined for a position based on fit. By exercising our philosophies of being transparent and putting people first, we were able to preserve these relationships, and today, these individuals are a few of our most successful team members. Companies need to recognize the value of not burning bridges. The wrong candidate today might be the right one tomorrow.

In the end, candidates who feel respected turn into employees who feel respected. Employees who feel respected are empowered, loyal, and more productive. This is what has worked for us, but with the success of companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix, I think there’s a pretty strong business case regarding the benefits of putting people first.

Samatha Glasberg is head of people at RJMetrics.

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with BizPhilly — here’s how: