...when you're hiring for your startup?
"Am I selecting the right candidate by using performance based criteria rather than judging the candidate by their interviewing skills?"
When I'm asked by someone interviewing for a job how to assess the (often entrepreneurial) company, this is what I usually say.
When you get to the part of the interview where the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, ask this one (if it hasn't come up in the interview):
"In six months, if I am in this job, what specific, measurable achievements would make me a great hire for you and your company?"
Of course, the answer you should get is obvious. If it's anything other than a hard-nosed description of the specific challenges the hiring person is facing in filling this position, you have to ask yourself why. My advice to people interviewing is that if they get a mealy mouthed "doing based" answer, run for the exit.
What's a "doing-based" answer mean?
Consider the need to hire an accountant for your company. One description is some variation of "perform the duties of the accounting manager, including managing the payables and receivables clerk, the monthly statement function, and the timely generation of management reports."
That's doing-based. It's almost impossible to achieve quantifiable success. How do you successfully manage a receivables clerk?
A performance based description might be something like "The accounting manager, within 4 weeks of hire, will reduce defects in the inventory management system to less than 1% of all skus being improperly quantified and/or priced. The manager will produce the monthly package of financial statements by the 7th business day of the month following, using the standard accounting package and report samples presented (attached.) The manager will reduce receivables collection days by 15% and maximize payables cash flow by z% " And so forth.
That's performance based.
Strong hiring people screen for performance. They don't make a snap judgment based on a first impression and then listen for reinforcing evidence, positive or negative. Inexperienced folks commonly make that mistake.
In addition, leaders hiring for performance have a pretty strong opinion of what is to be achieved and by when. This has a couple of beneficial effects. It laser focuses the successful candidate on the goal and immensely strengthens their ability to achieve the goal.
It provides a channel for positive reinforcement. It avoids the woefully common pitfall of assigning a "doing" based task (The successful candidate will perform the function of office manager...) that leads to self-defining success, falling into the trap of wandering off the task, and, if not caught in time, results in a lot of mutual dissatisfaction.
And, a performance based task makes it easy to align compensation with performance that everyone will like.
If you are hiring for your new company, remember that the right hire for the right task is the single most important thing you can do. Don't hire on impressions, but on performance.
Carry this through past the interview to the reference checks. Ask for specific instances for each area. Find evidence. Don't be afraid to ask the candidate for more references.
Take your time. Increase your hit rate. Or "sin in haste, repent at leisure."