Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff is known for his obsession with hiring the right people.
In his book, “Behind the Cloud,” Benioff writes, “We take hiring as seriously as we do revenue. Some people say I am obsessed with hiring, and they’re right.”
In fact, one of the first people he hired at Salesforce was an HR manager, Nancy Connery.
While most startups tend to value developers and product managers more, Benioff argues he hired an HR person first because “acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth.”
Connery was one of the three Oracle people Benioff took with him when he left the company to found Salesforce in 1999. Over nearly seven years at Salesforce, as founding VP of Human Resources, Connery was responsible for recruiting 650 employees.
Now, she runs her own HR consulting firm called Connery Consulting, helping some of the hottest tech companies, like Airbnb, Facebook, and Twitter, recruit employees.
Connery recently spoke with Business Insider to share her insights on how to recruit the right people. She says companies need to take hiring seriously and spend more time on it to find people that would fit right in with the company DNA.
“Nobody’s ever going to have a 100% hit rate in hiring,” she told Business Insider. “But it shouldn’t be just about this one hour interview you have. It’s a much more in-depth process, getting to know people.”
In order to do so, Connery says the following three things must be tested during the interview process:
- Raw intelligence: You simply need to test how smart they are. If you’re interviewing an engineer, you give them a coding test. If you’re hiring a sales person, you make them give a presentation. “They have to actually come in and present to management to get the opportunity – and that’s absolutely critical,” she says.
- Integrity: At Salesforce, “attitude” came first and “aptitude” second, when hiring. Connery says referencing people is important because it tells a lot about who the person is. She says it’s not just checking the three references they give you, but doing a thorough background check through social media and people who know the job candidate. “Connecting the dots on people is critical,” she says.
- Strong communications skills: It’s important for all potential employees to be able to clearly express themselves. Connery says the interview process should give a good idea of how well they communicate, but situational interviews, like asking what they would do in certain situations, or how they would react, also help to understand them better.
But even if you follow all the right steps and hire the perfect candidate, there are inevitably some people who just don’t fit in, she says. And in that case, it’s important to not mess around and just “fire fast.”
“You just don’t beat around the bushes,” she says. “There’s no benefit in that, to the employee, the coworker, the management and to the company.”