We’ve heard 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 hire a good fit for my team?
You might run into the ‘great on paper’ candidate, the team player who doesn't get along with others, or maybe the solid staff member who cracks under pressure. Faced with a stack of resumes and a full calendar of interviews, employers are expected to make significant decisions that will affect the future of their business with relatively little information.
Although a resume, cover letter, and a brief interview are by no means a window to someone's soul, these interactions can help answer questions, like ‘Is this person a team player?’ ‘What is his or her work ethic like?’ ‘Is the quality of his or her work up to your standards?’ ‘Can he or she handle high-stress environments?’ Your objective when reading over resumes or conducting interviews is to find little clues about someone that can (hopefully) provide you with insight into the way he or she operates.
Below are a few tips to help you choose your next team member.
The Little Things
Taking things seriously and paying attention to detail is a hallmark of a good team member, but how can you glean this from a resume and brief conversation? Easy. The quickest way to sift through a full inbox of resumes is to demand high-quality work from the get-go. Any minor typo, grammatical mistake, or formatting error can be grounds for instant disqualification. Email etiquette is also a must; if you do not feel comfortable forwarding that candidate's email directly to an investor or customer, you can cross him or her off the list. All of these little things speak to character traits critical in 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 enjoy talking about their passions, therefore an ideal employee will be excited to talk about their work.
Tell a Joke
Humor plays a very important role in an office and can greatly improve a company's corporate culture. 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, ideally, he or she will become part of your second family, of sorts. 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 one of the best long-term investments that you make.