Financial Data
Updated 26 Feb 2020

Building your best team begins with the right (hire) base

Have you ever calculated the cost of a bad hire? If teams build great business, poor employees can tear them down. Here’s how to hire and build a team that lasts. 

Nadine Todd, 05 July 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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From recruitment fees to the time it takes HR and team managers to read CVs and interview candidates, the hiring process is both time consuming and costly. If you find an excellent addition to your team, it’s money well spent, but what happens when you get things wrong?

Most highly successful business owners agree that teams build businesses. The better the team, the better the business. Finding top talent starts with hiring process.

Related: Tips to make teams work

Consider this

An incorrect hire is out there, representing your brand to existing and potential clients. If their values don’t align with yours, what reputational risks are you facing? 

Here are three tips from some of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs:

1. Hire for culture

“For years we had high staff turnover, with employees burning out or challenging our expectations. We realised that 80% of the success of a hire is culture,” says Ran Neu-Ner, co-founder of The Creative Counsel, sold to Publicis Group for an estimated R1 billion in 2015.

“Because most candidates will just tell you what they think you want to hear, we needed to develop a better interviewing style. What’s really worked for us are leading questions and the ‘why’ technique. Leading questions paint a scenario so that we can see how they approach situations. For example, you’re driving to an interview and you’re 5 minutes late. The robot in front of you is changing from orange to red. What do you do?

“The why technique is all about following every answer to a question with ‘why’. At the beginning it’s not even about the answer. All candidates have rehearsed talking points, but if you keep digging into their answers, and keep asking ‘why’, eventually you’re going to get unrehearsed, unplanned answers, and then you’ll start to see whether the individual’s values align with your own.”

Staff -strengths

2. Celebrate strengths

“Don’t create an ‘ideal employee’ template and then stick to it no matter what,” says Bos Ice Tea co-founder Grant Rushmere. “We hire people that suit our passion and energy, and place them in positions that suit their strengths, doing work that they love. Every person in a team is unique and useful.

Give them the freedom to do what they love, and you’ll engender loyalty and well as a team full of people really playing to their strengths. Of course in every job there are aspects that employees prefer over others, but why force creatives to do spreadsheets? MBAs love spreadsheets. Find the right fit for each member of your team.”

It’s important to keep this in mind during the hiring process as well. If you aren’t hiring for culture, you’re probably hiring for skills – but are those skills always relevant?

Related: What really motivates your sales team?

3. Make your offer attractive

Hiring the best isn’t always about offering the highest salaries. Instead, figure out the kind of talent you want to attract, and what’s important to them.

“We make it attractive to work here. We offer a market-related salary, as well as other rewards in the forms of equity and bonuses, but most importantly we give our team the opportunity to take part in strategic decisions,” says Fatima Vawda, owner of 27four investment Managers, a company with an R80 million turnover.

“We look for people who have had the same sort of path that I did. They started out in a corporate environment where they gained knowledge and experience, but are now looking for a smaller, more intimate team where they can make a difference to the company’s growth, their own careers and knowledge-base and their clients. Knowing exactly who you’re looking for makes the whole hiring process much more successful.”


  1. Determine your company culture, and the individual attributes that most suit your organisation.
  2. Develop an interview process that will test for these attributes.
  3. Determine how you will attract the right calibre of employee – what does your ideal candidate care about other than money?
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About the author

Nadine Todd

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