5 Things to Consider When Hiring a New Employee

How can hiring professionals can improve candidate quality and time-to-hire, increase diversity, and grow a talent pipeline in this new world of work.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently projected that total employment will grow by 8.3 million additional jobs between 2021 and 2031, with the pandemic recovery serving as a key driver of new job creation. And organizations are feeling the recruiting and hiring pressures.

Almost 66 percent of all organizational leaders currently are prioritizing building their talent pools of the future, yet challenges persist. So how can hiring professionals improve candidate quality and time-to-hire, increase diversity, and grow a talent pipeline in this new world of work?

Here are the top five things you should consider when hiring an employee:

1. Cultural Fit

Workplace cultures have greatly shifted as a result of the pandemic, including employee preference to work remotely or hybrid. According to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, Gen Zers and Millennials list the following cultural reasons they choose to work for their current organization:

  • Good work/life balance
  • A sense of meaning from my work
  • Flexible working model (e.g., can work remotely, on location, or a combination)
  • Positive workplace culture (e.g., employees feel valued, a sense of belonging)

Of course, Gen Xers value independence, work-life balance, flexibility, and informality. Baby Boomers value loyalty, hard work, and focus.

With all four of these generations active in the workplace, and in the shadow of the pandemic, leaders have the opportunity to reassess and reimagine workplace culture and hire those who will meld seamlessly into the newly crafted environment.

Neil Murray, Global CEO at JLL Work Dynamics, recently told HCL Tech that to engage and attract job seekers in today’s market, “organizations need to be authentic and true to their purpose. Words aren’t good enough anymore; your client value propositions need to be seamlessly integrated with your talent and employee proposition.”

Because cultural fit plays such an integral role in retaining the right employees, hiring professionals must focus on acquiring talent that aligns with (and can add to) the employer’s core values and culture.

2. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Pre-pandemic, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) measures were more of a nice-to-have or even a we-should-do-this. Now, it is widely recognized that properly executed DEI workplace initiatives help companies achieve higher productivity, increased innovation, and greater profits.

Leaders should be looking to add to the diversity of thought in their companies to ensure a competitive advantage by:

  • Setting the DEI tone at the top
  • Knowing your company’s diversity data to identify gaps a new hire may fill
  • Reviewing recruiting strategy to ensure DEI efforts and outcomes are aligned; this includes:
    • Reviewing your job ad and making the necessary changes to attract a wider audience
    • Targeting more diverse job seekers through colleges and universities, social media, and national pan-hellenic associations or affinity networking groups
    • Encouraging current employees to refer candidates who would enhance a diverse talent pipeline
    • Leveraging your diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) during the recruiting process
    • Including a diverse panoply of leaders in the interviewing process
  • Listening to current employees on diversity issues and challenges to be able to make changes that will attract talent

With 78 percent of hiring professionals saying diversity is the “top trend impacting how they hire,” it is clear that an eye to DEI is paramount in successfully hiring.

3. First-Hand Reference to Past Work

According to a recent Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) survey, 87 percent of employers check references during the hiring process. During these checks, employers typically learn about a candidate’s employment history, job performance, and eligibility for hire.

However, are employers really getting a first-hand look into a job candidate’s past work? Not typically. Let’s look at evidenced-based reference checks, which can be immensely helpful in determining if you’re hiring the right person.

Evidenced-based reference checking (or competency-based reference checking) goes beyond the general questions and gets specific. After all, you want a first-hand look at the job candidate’s actual abilities and competencies.

Here are some questions to consider when performing reference checks:

  • Tell me about how you and [the job candidate] worked together.
  • How did [the job candidate] interact with other team members?
  • Was [the job candidate] successful in mentoring or managing others?
  • For this position, we’re specifically looking for the following skills… Based on this, do you believe [the job candidate] is a good fit for this position?
  • In what areas would [this candidate] need extra support in the first 60 or 90 days on the job?
  • Did [the job candidate] have any big wins when they worked for you? What about any setbacks?

By uncovering a candidate’s prior performance, you will have a great indicator of future performance at your company.

4. Intellectual Curiosity

In today’s fast-paced, agile business environment, leaders should include intellectual curiosity as a preferred skill in all job descriptions. When hiring for intellectual curiosity, try to find candidates who are not only qualified and a good cultural fit, but also who are “capable of thinking beyond the role they are interviewing for.”

These individuals question the approaches to tasks and want a deeper understanding of why they are doing what they are doing and how it will help the company in the long term.

When interviewing, hiring leaders should ask questions that “gauge candidate curiosity and assess the answers, demeanor, and thought process behind each response.”

Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • Tell me about something you recently taught yourself.
  • What books have you read lately?
  • Tell me about your hobbies.
  • How do you strive for continual self-improvement?
  • What interests you about this position?

Interviewers also can determine intellectual curiosity through the questions asked by the job candidate. Look for job candidates who ask thoughtful follow-up questions throughout the interview, showing their natural curiosity and interest.

5. Complementary Skills (for company growth today and tomorrow)

From 2020 to 2021, experts estimate that the workplace evolved five to10 years—all in 12 months, accelerated by the global pandemic. With continuing advances in technology, new generations entering the workplace, and current generations growing into leadership roles, the need for new skill sets will be in high demand—for both employees and employers alike.

According to Gartner, HR leaders and recruiting professionals are finding it “increasingly difficult to quickly find and develop talent with the most [in-demand] skills, yet 58 percent of the workforce needs new skills to get their jobs done.”

For example, data shows that the number of skills needed to complete a single job in 2017 has been increasing by 10 percent each year since then. Further, one in three skills in a 2017 IT, sales, or finance job listing is already obsolete.

When determining complementary skills for employees now—and those needed for the future growth of your employees and your company—HR leaders should consider the following:

  • Assess the skill sets of current employees. That will help you map out what skills your teams have and what skills you need to supplement (which should be considered when hiring new employees).
  • Identify secondary and tertiary skill sets to leverage complementary skills of current employees and job applicants at scale.
    • When considering secondary and tertiary skills, determine what skills need to be further developed to help your business grow.
    • Also, determine whether the further development of these skills can be achieved through reskilling or upskilling.
  • Focus on making jobs (and their required skills) more fluid.
    • Traditional career paths often assume skills won’t change to a large degree over time. In today’s world, this isn’t the case.
    • By adding flexibility and fluidity into jobs, employers can better take advantage of current skills and secondary/tertiary skills—helping current and new employees grow in their jobs while adding organizational value.

When hiring new employees to your team, take your skills assessment to the next level by assessing not only primary skills but also secondary and tertiary skills. This allows you to fill in the current skills gaps in your company while planning for the future.

Moving Ahead

As businesses today are expected to be more agile, innovative, and productive, incorporating these trends when hiring your employees will not only help you attract and retain top talent but also create a dynamic organization—one that’s ready for what’s to come.

Ayesha Whyte
Ayesha J. Whyte is a human capital executive and employment attorney with 20 years of experience helping public and private companies drive business growth by developing their People & Culture functions. Whyte provides specialized guidance to CEOs and boards regarding potential acquisitions, executive compensation, and employee stock share. Through her firm, Dixon Whyte LLC, Whyte serves as a Chief People Officer and legal advisor for multiple companies. Prior to her work as a Chief People Officer, Whyte served in leadership roles in legal and HR at The Walt Disney Company, WeWork, and Amtrak. Whyte serves as a TechStars mentor and Advisory Board member of VirgilHR, a SaaS product that allows organizations to make employment and labor law decisions in the moment, without need to research regulatory requirements. She is also a founding member of CHIEF and a member of Black Women on Boards