It’s undeniable that the caliber and fit of the people in your organization—their integrity, intelligence, experience, and commitment—is critical to your success. Give great people who fit the opportunity to do meaningful work, and there’s no telling what they can achieve.
So, if the people in your organization are the most critical factor in your success, do you spend enough time identifying, recruiting, and (don’t overlook this one) retaining top-caliber people? I’d argue that most organizations don’t, and most research supports my assertion. In fact, more times than not management convinces themselves that they have the right talent so they don’t have to face the reality. A position opens up, and the hiring manager, now short-staffed, looks to fill it as quickly as possible. The problem with that approach is that a bad hire is far more costly to the organization than working shorthanded.
A bad hire requires additional management time and attention, taking away from the real priorities of the business. A bad hire hurts morale because others have to pick up the slack created by someone who doesn’t contribute at the same level as his peers. A bad hire requires another separation, which results in the same opening you rushed to fill with a less than ideal candidate.
The true cost of that bad hire is far more expensive than living with an open position for another few weeks or even months. So why do so many of us rush into hiring when the result, far too often, is a new employee who doesn’t possess all the traits for which we’re looking?
When you were dating, did your parents ever tell you that you’d better love that person the way he or she is because if you go in thinking you’re going to change him or her, you’re sadly mistaken? Well, the same is true for employees. Sure we can train people, teach them new skills, and help them develop their talents. But who they are—their core beliefs and key personality traits—has been determined long before they come to work for us.
Slow It Down … Hurrying Can Result in a Bad Hire!
So, when you’re hiring, regardless of position, here are some of the things you should be looking for in the candidates you interview:
- People who take responsibility. Look for people who have demonstrated the desire and ability to own projects—those who thrive on being responsible for the work and the outcome.
- Resourcefulness. We all know nothing ever goes as planned. There’s always a surprise or two on every project. Find people who are resourceful and have the ability to get the job done when they’ve been thrown a curveball.
- Positive attitude. You want people who embrace a challenge and look at life from a positive perspective. Nothing kills morale faster than an “Eeyore”—you know, the character from the Winnie-the-Pooh series who mopes around always in some state of depression. You need people who have energy for what they do.
- Listening skills. Some people want to talk a lot more than they listen—be careful of these people. A good listener is in touch with those around her because she hears what they’re saying and can learn because she’s willing and able to take in new information.
- Relationship builders. No one can do it all by herself. No one. Look for people who can build and sustain positive relationships with others. So much of what we do today at work is done in a team environment. People who are incapable of working with others have far less value in the workplace today.
- Focus. Let’s face it—we live in a world where we are constantly being distracted. There is no shortage of people and things screaming for our attention. The ability to focus on the core issues and shut out all the distracting noise is critical to success. Look for people who know how to focus on what really makes a difference.
- Big thinkers. You want people who have big ideas and big goals. The only way to achieve great things is to have people who have a vision and believe they’re capable of reaching even the most lofty of heights.
Is this list exhaustive? Absolutely not.
Does every candidate need to possess every one of these traits? Same answer.
But looking for people who possess as many of them as possible and ignoring the urge to take the first acceptable candidate who walks through the door will make a real difference in what your organization is able to achieve. You don’t want to settle when it comes to hiring because it’s people who determine your company’s success.
And please remember Interviews have the candidate displaying deliberate thinking, the actual work requires more automatic thinking, and that is why most interviews hide or cannot predict with reliability future behaviors or performance.