“Good on paper, good in person” has always been a little old wive’s tale in the recruiting world. It rings true as you look for candidates. No one person is perfect. You are never going to find candidates who do everything right and who have the most experience in the world. The people you hire have flaws, but you need to know the right and wrong flaws to choose. There are flaws that you can iron out with time and flaws that impact the whole team. Choose wisely, but don’t judge too fast.
If you have a larger team, look at several people all doing the same job. Now look at what the top three performing workers have in common. These similar skills or experiences are going to be the basics of what your new candidate needs to have. The basics HAVE to be there. There’s no wiggle room on the basics.
Then ask the candidate about a time in their career where they had to fix a problem. What was the problem? What did they do to fix it? Problem-solving is a valuable asset in your team members and a difficult one to teach.
Emotional intelligence is another highly valued trait in candidates. It’s a strong indicator of success and teamwork, regardless of industry or position. Like problem-solving skills, there are aspects of this that can be taught, but it’s a much more abstract skill set to teach than organizational processes, for example.
Getting a second opinion when you’re hiring a candidate can also help you set aside your personal judgement of a candidate’s flaws and get better perspective. Conducting interviews with multiple rounds with different people is one approach; or you may even have group interviews with multiple members of your team present.
A second person is going to be looking for similar skills and experiences as you are but they may judge “personality” differently. You also want to be sure that your hire fits into the team culture. Being happy, getting along with colleagues, and working well together are critical to the day-to-day function of the team.
If you have someone who shies away from communicating, socializing or getting involved in team activities, it can alienate them in more ways than one. Be careful not to mistake an introvert or someone who is nervous for an interview as someone who isn’t personable.
And as a friendly reminder, prepare for candidates to bring up your company reviews from Glassdoor, a common employer review site. It’s important that you remain neutral and not defensive. If you have bad company reviews and the candidate brings that up, don’t dismiss them. Instead, applaud them for their research as they’ve clearly done their homework. Then answer them honestly (and appropriately) and tell them how your company is trying to improve from the reviews if your team has found that there is an area of improvement.
Ultimately choose the candidate that has the skill set you’re after for the open position, fits into the team culture, and can grow with your team. Then strive to support them in their new role as they get to know their new work family.