Screen For Skill, Interview For Personality

Putting together a highly effective team is one of the greatest challenges of owning and running a business.  I have been hiring people for various positions for over 20 years, made some great choices and made some outstanding mistakes.  Mistakes that aren’t fatal, but they have taught me some great lessons and changed the way I approach hiring.

Here are a couple of practical suggestions that I live by now.

Screen for Skill.  If you’ve ever placed an ad looking for an employee or staff member, you’ve probably also received a flood of resumes in response.  Don’t let this overwhelm you – use the resumes to create a shortlist of people who have the skill sets you need and schedule interviews from this list.

Interview for Personality.  Obviously you’re going to want to confirm the skills that were listed on the resume, but I use the interview to try and get to know the candidate on a personal level.  Ask open-ended questions and allow the interview to flow to topics that the candidate wants to talk about.  I want to get to know them as much as I can in the time we have.  To facilitate this it is important to make sure you have enough time for each interview – you can’t cram it all into 6 minutes.  Interviewing for different positions will take different amounts of time, but I wouldn’t recommend any less than 20 minutes even for an entry level position.  I want to make sure that I enjoy interacting with them, after all I’m going to be working with them.  This helps to ensure that they treat my clients and other team members well too.

Don’t Force It.  If you get to the last of the interviews on your short list and no candidate really stands out don’t force it.  Don’t hire someone that is just “OK”.  These are people you are going to spend a lot of time with and represent you to your clients.  Go through the resumes again, run the ad again, interview more people, make sure you get the best fit for your team!

The wrong team members can be a source of constant frustration and distraction, but when you get the right team together it is one of the most successful feelings in business!