Don’t Hire Donkeys—Seek Out the Thoroughbreds Instead!

In my current role at DMA Solutions, which includes working in an operational capacity, hiring folks is one of the many things I love to do when the season and timing for the company permit. Like so many small- to medium-sized businesses, it has taken our leadership team a minute (and several long and somewhat difficult conversations) to figure out “the right fit” for our organization. While we want to be a grateful company, and we are always happy when someone professes a desire to build their career with us, we also have had to learn to be prudent throughout the interview process. As anyone who has been in a hiring role can attest, many questions must be asked by multiple different leaders within the organization, so that everyone is placing their bet on the same talented individual(s).  It has taken us years to get our recruitment practices on the right path and finally [*exhales audibly*] being able to identify when we are interviewing a “donkey” (yes, I’m figuratively talking about the domesticated hoofed mammal of the horse family) or a “thoroughbred,” as explained by one of our favorite motivational speakers.

Years ago, Dan’l and I were inspired when listening to Dave Ramsey talk about this very topic. At the time, I’m not even sure we realized we’d been interviewing and (*clears throat nervously*) even hiring donkeys until his words poured over us like rainwater in a dry, sun-baked desert. Dave’s philosophy is that thoroughbreds (your most diligent, competent, knowledge-hungry workers) don’t want to work with donkeys (those individuals who are less responsible, less motivated, and less trustworthy). Thus, if you are currently hiring “donkeys,” you are destined to hire more.  Subsequently, if you hire a person who is eager to roll up their sleeves, come to work each day with a great attitude, and take ownership and accountability for the work they oversee, you have found yourself a “thoroughbred”.

However, despite the many benefits of thoroughbreds, it’s because of these high achieving attributes that they definitely do not like to work with donkeys.

The tricky part about hiring is that sometimes donkeys can be hard to identify at the beginning of the recruitment journey. They send in organized resumes that are attractive, and list skills that sound perfect for the role you’re seeking to fill. If you hire them, know that eventually their true nature will start to show, emerging in a forceful manner that can shock leaders and colleagues alike.

If this happens, the great news for you is that thoroughbreds tend to be loyal team players. When a donkey emerges, a thoroughbred can spot ‘em from a mile away.

At DMA, we’ve learned to make it a best practice to interview candidates 4 or even 5 times to try and better identify thoroughbred candidates.  Several of our team members, each with different roles and perspectives, ask a variety of questions that can signal whether the candidate might not be a good culture fit or possess the marketing expertise necessary for the role, many of  which can easily be missed when conducting an interview.

The investment in finding high performing thoroughbreds pays off and can mean better business practices, increased productivity and morale in your business.

Looking for more great resources on hiring?  Here are a few of our recommended resources that continually help shape our recruitment and hiring process at DMA:

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