You’ve heard all of the clichés: “Teamwork makes the dream work,” “there is no ‘I’ in team,” etc. You cannot discount the importance of assembling a good team around you. One of the toughest questions each business faces, however, is: how do I know who to hire when I am trying to grow my team?
We’ve all heard the horror stories: the “team player” who doesn't get along with others, the "great on paper" candidate, the “solid” staff member who breaks under pressure. Faced with a stack of resumes and a full calendar of interviews, employers are expected to make significant decisions with relatively little information.
Now, a resume, cover letter and a brief interview are by no means a window to someone's soul, but these short interactions can speak volumes. Are they team player? What is their work ethic like? Is the quality of their work up to your standards? Can they handle high-stress environments? Your objective is to find little clues about someone that (hopefully) can provide you with insight into the way they view the world and potential employment.
Below are a few tips to help you choose your next employee:
The Little Things
Taking things seriously and attention to detail is a hallmark of a good team member, but how can you glean this from a resume and brief conversation? Easy. Less content demands a higher quality. The quickest way to sift through a full inbox of resumes is to expect perfection. Any minor typo, grammatical mistake, or formatting error can be grounds for instant disqualification. Email etiquette is a must. If you do not feel comfortable forwarding that candidate's email directly to an investor or customer, you already have a problem on your hands. All of these little things speak to character traits critical to any workplace: commitment and attention to detail.
The best way to understand if a candidate actually has the experience they claim, and the know-how to get the job done, is just by getting them talking. Without a formal interrogation about best practices, "what would you do if X" scenarios, or even technical knowledge, just start talking about what you do, the position, and their past experiences. If a candidate really has the drive and experience to join your team, an engaging conversation will naturally develop. If your interviewee is not actively contributing, something may be off. People get excited about their passions and most importantly the work that they love. An ideal employee is fulfilled by their work.
Tell a Joke
Humor plays a very important role in an office and can elevate a company's corporate culture to new heights. Gauging your candidate’s sense of humor will help you visualize them sitting with your team day-after-day. Any new employee should be amplifying your current staff, both in productivity and culture. Your goal is to find the right fit not only for the role, but also for your colleagues.
The Lunch Test
As you evaluate your top candidates, consider this: would you be happy to sit across from this person at the lunch table day in and day out? Remember, you are going to be spending a lot of time with this person and interacting with them on a very personal level. Does this person seem like the right personality fit? Each team member is a constant ambassador for your brand, and a compelling, well-spoken individual can be a great asset.
At the end of the day, how can you possibly tell whether someone is honest, trustworthy and worthy of your paycheck after just a 30 minute interview? Trust takes years to develop, and a candidate's moral compass can be hard to read. When you really boil down what matters most, think of what your customers want: quality, integrity, trust and respect. A candidate possessing these important traits will be the one of the best long-term investments that you make.