Imagine you had a choice of hiring one of two candidates for your firm. The first had years of experience, was highly qualified and boasted a strong track record. The second was junior player, ambitious yet untested.
Many firms wouldn’t hesitate in choosing the former. But what if the older candidate was so sure of himself that he refused to listen to his superiors, mocked the mistakes of others and proved to be otherwise prickly and uncooperative?
A version of the phrase ‘hire on character, train for skills’ is often quoted by experienced business people. On paper, firms may seem like a machine powered by team members who form the cogs and wheels. In reality, firms are social organizations that rely on commitment to a common goal and a positive attitude to function at their best. This is why large corporations care so much about establishing a culture that closely identifies with its mission. The same is true of smaller firms.
When screening prospective team members, make sure you spend time explaining why you are in business. Conveying a sense of purpose is at least as important as describing the way the firm functions. If a prospective team member shares your vision for the firm, they are more likely to work well alongside your other team members.
In the interview, look for excitement and enthusiasm.
Recruiters recommend using behavioral traits as a guide to screening candidates. After writing a job description based on the activities required, write down the type of characteristics and raits a team member would require.
If the position is replacing a valuable team member, write down the outgoing team member’s traits, skills and characteristics as a starting point. Make sure you include the behavioral characteristics in the test of the job posting.
In the interview, look for excitement and enthusiasm. If the candidate sounds bored by the prospect of taking the job, it’s a safe bet that the job is not going to work out for either of you.
Although it sounds counter-intuitive, experience can even be a hindrance. Newer firms with unconventional approaches to their field can find that team members hired away from competitors are less keen to do something that contradicts their training. Instead those firms might do better hiring younger team members who are less set in their ways.