Finding Your Entreployee Partner: Hiring for Innovation

Welcome to the age of the entreployee: workers empowered to innovate in ways that were once reserved for the founding entrepreneur. By flipping the paradigm switch from an employee to an entreployee model, you can reap the fruits of increased creativity while building a workforce that is more dynamic, engaged, and loyal. In this article, we will look at ways to transform your hiring process in order to identify and land those potential entreployees—before they get away.

Attracting Innovators

Attracting entreployees starts before you’re even thinking of hiring, whether you’re adding your third or 30th team member. According to Alicia Calascibetta, executive director of recruiting and delivery at HR firm Marchon Partners, it starts with telling the story of your business. 

“Make sure people know who you are as a company, the types of people that are successful there, and the skill set that drives that success,” she notes. “If you do that, you will begin to see people applying whose stories, drives, and passions make a good match.” Your message needs to be clear and consistent—on your website, in your publications, and in how you present yourself. 

But finding entreployees doesn’t mean waiting around for creative personnel to come to you. Where are the great ideas coming from in your field? You don’t need a high-priced headhunter to check out what’s being said—and who is saying it—on social media, blogs, podcasts, and webinars. If you can nurture ongoing communication and dialogue with innovators, you may be able to snap someone up when the moment seems right, avoiding a time-consuming “employee hunt” altogether.  

Finally, when you’re ready to hire, consider changing up the job descriptions for the positions you’d like to fill. The traditional job description calls for a certain degree or qualification, along with relevant work experience: hardly a recipe for innovators. Rather than an office full of people with similar educations and backgrounds, an entrepreneurial culture thrives on a diversity of experiences and approaches. 

A job description should compel the kind of person you are trying to attract. “The focus must be on conveying to the applicant the excitement of the role, the challenges of the job, and, most importantly, what they will get out of working for your business and how they can make an impact,” avers Calascibetta.

Transforming Hiring

The next step is to cull résumés and schedule interviews. Many hiring managers rely on a narrow set of indicators, which, although useful in expediting the résumé-filtering process, can have the unintended effect of blinding them to potential innovators. Other traits, such as a diversity of educational and work experience, a range of pastimes, a stint of living abroad, or a sense of humor, may be better indicators of creativity and innovation.

With a little planning, a dry question-and-answer interview can be transformed into a creative laboratory all its own. Here is where intuition and a healthy dose of quirkiness count. It is often in those candid moments that the most light can be shed on a candidate’s character. Instead of theoretical “What if?” questions, think about presenting a real problem your company has had to face; you could even post the same problem on your website to engage potential candidates beforehand. 

Ashley Conaty, a senior recruitment consultant at the educational technology recruitment firm FieldPros, states that such behavioral questions “provide the interviewer a chance to gauge how a candidate really solves problems, preventing canned interview question responses.” To find the real entreployees, Conaty also suggests asking candidates to make a short, 10-15 minute presentation on a topic that they are passionate about. 

“Presentations are a great way to evaluate a candidate’s preparedness, creativity, listening, and communication skills—as well as character traits like charisma and awareness,” she adds.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet

“Interviewers forget that candidates are interviewing them, as well,” Conaty notes. But connecting with potential entreployees during the interview process is particularly important for smaller businesses, which may not be able to offer the battery of benefits of their larger competitors. 

“Roll out the red carpet,” says Conaty. “Show them why they should work for your business rather than another. Make sure your candidates leave the interview feeling as though they can make a difference in your organization and that they will be adequately supported to do so.” 

Most of all, be authentic during the interviews. If you can make a genuine connection with your potential entreployee, they will be more likely to choose you, rather than your competitor. 

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