To Hire Effectively, ‘Know What You Suck At’

If you’re a small business owner, whether you’re a boutique PR firm or a marketing company, you’ve probably had to deal with hiring someone at some point. Yet hiring—good hiring—is tough. (This is why we have HR, right?)

Jonathan Weber
, founder of New West, a media company covering the Rocky Mountains, has figured out some hiring tricks.

First, what’s at stake:

“Good hiring is the single most critical factor in the success of many types of businesses, and it’s probably becoming even more important as the world gets more competitive and the professional-service economy becomes ever more central.”

Weber, who has a background in journalism, says he’s figured out how to hire other journalists.

I know what to look for in the résumé and the writing samples, I know how to interview, I know how to put them though the paces with the rest of the team, I know how to structure a job offer that’s a great deal for both sides. I can count on one hand the number of bad editorial hires I’ve made, and I’m frankly proud of my skills as a judge of journalistic talent and a builder of great editorial teams.


When it comes to hiring salespeople, though, my experience could hardly be more different…I feel a bit lost going in, my usual approaches to an interview…are oddly unenlightening, and my track record is poor. The first business-side person we hired at New West lasted two weeks (she couldn’t even be bothered to show up at work on time).

So then what?

Turns out, “going with your gut” is less useful in these sorts of situations. Instead, Weber “find[s] as much outside help and input as I can in hiring for things I suck at…I now have a new senior-level but part-time person helping out on the business side at NewWest.Net, and I make it a point to defer to him on all hiring and management decisions pertaining to the sales operation in particular.” If you don’t have a business partner or associate who complements your skills, find a virtual or temporary partner and just listen.

Sound advice.