As HireRight has grown, Eric Boden has found it challenging to maintain a presence at the department meetings he was once able to attend without difficulty.
Staying visible at the office and with employees is key for any CEO who wants to keep his or her company moving forward, Boden says.
“The worst situation a CEO can get into is when they are insulated from what’s really going on in the business,” Boden says. “I feel very comfortable that I have a good perspective of what’s happening in the company because I stay accessible.”
HireRight, which provides background screenings for employers, grew 1,034 percent from 2001 to 2005 with $43 million in revenue in 2005 and about 400 employees. Smart Business spoke with the chairman, president and CEO of HireRight about the importance of sticking to your standards when making a hire.
Q: How do you find the right employees?
It starts with understanding the position that you are recruiting to fill and defining the requirements for the position. Be steadfast in not compromising.
We delay filling a position until we find the right person. It’s defining what you’re looking for and then staying committed to the quality of the person.
Desperate hires are the ones where you make mistakes. We involve everybody on the team in the interviewing process. Typically, an interview cycle can involve eight to 10 people. We would never hire somebody based on an interview with just one or two people.
If I’m interviewing someone and they haven’t taken the time to research our industry and review our Web site, and they don’t know anything about our company, I’m going to be less attracted to that candidate.
I view candidates as making an investment in our company, and we’re making an investment with them. It’s a mutual due-diligence process.
Q: How do you determine cultural fit?
As the CEO, typically I’m the last person in the interviewing cycle. I focus on things that are important to our culture or integrity.
Our company has grown very fast, so we want people that are adaptable. We don’t have a written policy and procedure for everything in the company, so we’re looking for people who can improvise and are resourceful, and can think on their feet. The most important cultural aspect is people that enjoy working with teams and are committed to the success of the team over their own individual success.
Look at their accomplishments, maybe in school. What extracurricular activities do they have? A lot of times candidates will list hobbies at the bottom of their resume.
When they tell me they went to school full-time and they worked full-time, you can get some insight into how much energy they have. Usually that will come out in the interview. It’s not just about personality.
Somebody could appear to be very quiet in the interviewing process, but I wouldn’t interpret that as meaning that they have low energy.
Q: What is one skill that can really help a CEO?
A sense of humor. They have to not take themselves too seriously. Business is a challenge, and it’s important, but it’s not life or death. I try and remember where I was. I started out selling popcorn when I was 17 years old. My wife reminds me, if I get a little too full of myself, that I’m just a popcorn salesman who got lucky. A lot of success has to do with timing and good fortune.
I think CEOs need to be careful about pride, and they need to keep their humility and really have fun. One of the things I treasure the most is the people that I work with every day. I probably wouldn’t have that enjoyment if I took myself too seriously.
Q: How do you respond to criticism?
If you kill the messenger, you’re not going to get any more information. You make a positive example out of people that are willing to give you that information.
I know I have some individuals that can be a little cynical at times. I accept that because their intentions are in the right place. I think it’s good to have some naysayers in your company that are willing to challenge the sacred cows, and really make sure you’re confronting the real issues.
Q: What is a common mistake of growing businesses?
There are constant demands from the CEO to take the business in different directions. You are constantly encountering new opportunities, and you can’t afford to chase after every opportunity.
It’s better to do one thing very well than do a whole bunch of things and not execute them well. Understanding what that focus is and communicating it throughout the organization is very important.
HOW TO REACH: HireRight, www.hireright.com or (800) 400-2761