A couple of weeks ago I wrote about common mistakes managers make during interviews. Since then, I’ve had a few questions about what I look for when interviewing a potential new employee. So as a follow-up to that post, here are some of the qualities at the top of my list.
1. Skill vs. knowledge.
There’s a difference between knowing how to do something and being good at it. I know how to hang drywall, but you don’t want me handling your next home renovation.
Its easy to be fooled into thinking you’ve got a great job candidate just because they know the right things to say. Luckily, there are interviewing techniques to help you better assess the critical soft skills.
2. Attitude vs experience.
Some managers place a lot of weight on experience. And I admit that, for certain jobs. it’s a must. But I learned early on not to rely too heavily on experience.
When you hire someone, they bring their learned behaviors, good and bad, to your organization. I’ve hired experienced sales people only to learn that their experience, gained with a no-holds-barred competitor, didn’t fit with my customer service oriented approach.
But give me someone with the right basic skills coupled with the right attitude and, regardless of inexperience, I’ll train them how to do the job well. Anyone you bring into your organization will have to be trained on your accepted methods. Just be sure you don’t have to “untrain” them first.
The best players on my team are always looking for ways to get better. They don’t assume they know everything. By continuing to grow their abilities and adding new skills, the stay sharp and continue to bring more and more value to my team.
So when interviewing, I look for people who appear coachable. They’ve learned from their mistakes. And even when successful, they can articulate improvements they would make given another chance.
4. Team fit.
Teams succeed when they work well together. That takes chemistry. So I always let the team have a shot at any potential new coworker. If the team gets a bad feeling, I know not to hire. They see team fit issues I might miss.
Of course, this assumes you have an existing team that works well together, knows each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and knows they are only as good as the weakest member of the group. If this doesn’t sound like your team, you’ve got a whole different set of problems.
I’m not looking to fill a position. I’m in the process of building something. So I need people on my team that can get excited about the vision we’re working toward.
During an interview, I look for someone whose eyes light up when they talk about projects similar to what we’re working on. They want more than a job. They want to be part of something bigger.
There you have it. If you’re getting ready to interview for a new job, blow the panel away by demonstrating these characteristics. And if you’re getting ready to interview for an open position, add these qualities to your list. I guarantee you’ll wind up with a better candidate.
If you’d like more information regarding how I structure an interview, shoot me an email and I’ll send you an outline.
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