Nothing I do as an entrepreneur/business owner is as important as hiring the right people. But hiring is tricky. It's very easy to pluck someone that's immediately available when you need boots on the ground. But, I always keep two things in mind when looking to hire someone.
1. A bad employee always damages your company.
2. Succesful recruiting means hiring above yourself, not below.
As technology companies seeking the best talent, Microsoft and Google have developed a number of interviewing techniques and systems to avoid hiring the wrong people. (The emphasis here is on 'avoid hiring the wrong people', not 'hiring the right people'. Why? Both of these companies feel that there's a tremendous pool of talented people that will be attracted to them and that the screening process is best used to keep sub-par staff outside the gates.
From the book; How Would You Move Mt.Fuji Microsoft "seeks to avoid hiring the wrong person, even if this occasionally means missing out on some good people. The justification is that never before has it cost so much to recruit, maintain, and -- heaven forbid -- discharge an employee"
David Pritchard, director of recruiting for Microsoft says, "The best thing we can do for our competitors is hire poorly. If I hire a bunch of bozos, it will hurt us, because it takes time to get rid of them. They start infiltrating the organization and then they themselves start hiring people of lower quality"
The Google hiring process is notoriously long and complicated. My brother-in-law works for Google and I think he had 16 interviews over six months. A single no-vote of the hiring committee means you're not in. (Liberum Veto) Why? They assume that there is a huge talent pool of great people and that they can afford to pass on people that would be great fits in order to make sure they never let someone through who brings problems.
I've tried to institue a simlar process. There are benefits to multiple interviews by other employees. When an existing staff member interviews a potential hire and then signs off on them, they put some skin in the game and have a reason to help the new hire succeed.
As a start-up, Nimble is faced with the problem that we can't use internal systems and existing staff to avoid bringing in a lesser player. We're going to have to rely on referrals and whatever street smarts we possess. But we're looking to hire young, fast, and hungry.