I cannot emphasize this enough. Veteran managers have said, “Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills.” This is so true. Every young manager makes the mistake of hiring at least one person whose technical skills fit the job needs, while they ignore or minimize the personality traits that may be sending up red flags. This is tempting, because it solves the short-term problem – get someone who can do the job today. But it causes a host of problems in the long-term. Problems with customers. Problems with other workers and team members. Problems for you, their boss. Maybe problems with accounting, maybe even problems with your legal department.
What are the red flags that hiring managers should not ignore when seeking to hire the RIGHT team members? Manner of dress is important. Ability to carry on a conversation while respecting the personal space of the other person. This is demonstrated by the loudness (or softness) of their voice, their ability to refrain from personal story telling, and ability to relate to YOUR situation. Other red flags? Promptness. Personal grooming and appearance. (are they appropriate, or over-done or underkempt?) Maturity?
People have certain character traits that are often difficult (or impossible) to rid them of. Habits, Mannerisms. Attitudes about the world. Other people. Superiority or inferiority complexes. Mean streaks. Lack of morals. Dishonesty.
If you run into people with these, and you don’t detect them, and you aren’t prepared to deal with them after they are hired, they can reflect badly on your team, your operation, and your employer. They can infect other team members. They can poison your customers against you. They can destroy the reputation that you have been working to build. They can suck up a lot of your time trying to build a case to fire them, even after you find out that they are not the type of employee that you want.
Instead, look for people with solid foundations. People that are pleasant to be around, have a sense of purpose, that elevate your team, that are seen as an addition to the existing team. So what if they don’t have all of the skills? If they are truly in it for the long haul, those things will become mere details in the big picture.
I look for Attitude, Mission, Purpose, Pleasantness, Personality, Humbleness (lack of ego), and Intelligence.
Here is what I do when hiring someone. First, I get the technical competency details out of the way at the very start of the interview. From then on, it is just a ‘visit’. We talk about family, background, upbringing, people we know, schools – all those things that Human Resources says to not talk about. Then we may go to lunch, and I may disclose some of my personal past failings or challenges, along with some of my pet peeves. After the interview ends, I try to forget it for a couple of days. Then I think back and recall, “Was this a pleasant experience? Did I enjoy my time with this person?” If I can answer “Yes.”, then it is a pretty good likelihood that my customers would like dealing with this person, also. Factoring in these interview feelings with the other parts of the overall process can really help you to find the person that fits your team the best.