Tips for Hiring Great People and Building a Great Team

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By Erin Cammarata

Over the past twelve months our company has increased our team members by 18 percent. While it is great that we need to grow our teams, the hiring process has been time-consuming and a learning process, and therefore a cause for reflection.

In her book, Powerful, Patty McCord, former chief talent officer at Netflix, shares a great approach to hiring. She points out that companies need to focus on building a team, not a family. "Just as great sports teams are constantly scouting for new players and culling others from their lineups, our team leaders would need to continually look for talent and reconfigure team makeup," she wrote. At CBS, we are always hiring or at least scouting, and this has drawn me to write a bit about our approach on hiring great people.

Most notably, the hiring process should not be rushed. Hurrying through the process will likely lead to the wrong person in the wrong job, costing time and money. Anticipating future needs by referring to your business plan to determine what needs you may have coming up in the next few months, next year, or two to three years from now can help you begin the hiring process at a measured pace.

A great candidate experience starts with their first view of the company: the ad that you place. Make sure the job description provides a clear understanding of what the position entails, some insight into your company culture, and the work ethic you are looking for. This transparency will allow candidates to determine whether it will be a good fit.

Review resumés and applications carefully. We get resumés by the dozens, and sifting through them is not just a task, but a skill. You do not want to miss a potential great candidate because you didn't make the time to get through the pile. We look for a custom cover letter that addresses the position we are hiring for. Weeding out the generic cover letters leads me to believe the candidate is not a serial Indeed responder. 

We always prescreen our candidates in a phone interview where we ask mini-interview questions to gauge whether this is a candidate we want to meet. This will save you and your team time.

Be thoughtful with your questions. Know exactly what you are looking for in you next team member, so you know how to organize your questions. You want to determine whether the candidate has the skills to perform the position's tasks. Can they multitask? Are they coachable/teachable? Are they problem solvers and critical thinkers? 

Checking the candidates' references is a must and should not be treated as a formality in the last step in the hiring process. When checking references look for holes. Did they list someone as a supervisor who was actually a friend or coworker? Always ask if you can contact their current employer. This will let you know where they stand with the employer.

Remember the benefit from speaking with references is to gain new information about your candidate. You need to be creative in the questions you ask to get a full picture of the candidate's abilities. Instead of asking about his or her weaknesses, ask if there is an area in which the candidate could develop more skill. Ask open-ended questions to avoid yes/no answers.

Once the interview stage begins, get different perspectives by having more than one person do the interviewing. If time allows, we have various team leads conduct separate interviews. Candidates often present themselves differently with different people.

The best way to ensure a great hire is taking your time through the process and treating it as a priority. Successful hiring requires a time investment to eliminate the unqualified candidates to limit your candidate pool to the best of the best. If you conduct ongoing interviews, you will be able to select from that pool instead of rushing to fill an empty position. 


Erin Cammarata is president and owner of CBS Medical Billing and Consulting. She can be contacted at