As the interview was wrapping up, I thought to myself, “There’s no way this kid will ever work for me.” It wasn’t that the guy looked unusual, he just acted strange. He began the interview by criticizing the color of the walls (which I had painted myself), sat on his feet in the office chair, and had a most unkempt appearance. He just seemed bizarre and I couldn’t imagine adding him to my team. After I had finished interviewing all of the applicants, I looked back over the disappointing résumés. Then I had an epiphany. I remembered something from my HR classes in college that enabled me to hire someone who did a terrific job. Let’s look at two keys that you can use to get the right people on your team.
Focus on what matters most
If you haven’t looked at help wanted ads in a while, you really should. It can be quite educational. Sometimes you’ll get ideas that you can use when you write your own help wanted ads. Often, you’ll spot lots of ads that focus on the irrelevant. It really is amazing how often things that really aren’t necessary are added to the job description. Too frequently they’re looking for Mr. or Ms. Perfect. Hiring is a lot like looking for a mate – unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment. If your ad is unrealistic, there may be a lot of fantastic applicants that you miss because you’re focused on the wrong criteria.
What specifically will your new employee do? Make a list of duties and tasks that this person will be performing. In order to identify the best possible job candidate, you’ve got to start by getting really clear on what specifically that person on your team will be doing. You can look at job descriptions online for ideas, but don’t copy them. They weren’t written for your business, so use only the parts that completely apply to your situation. This list of duties and tasks becomes the basis for the job description you’ll use in your help wanted ad.
Next, instead of demanding 3-5 years’ experience and college degree, focus on the specific skills that this person must possess in order to perform the job description that you’ve come up with. Think through who they will be interacting with and what tools or computer programs they will be using. It is from this that you’ll make a list of the required skills for your new position.
Attitude and aptitude
Attitude is one of the most important qualities to look for. Attitude plus aptitude are far more important than the current skills possessed. You see attitude and aptitude are innate qualities possessed, whereas skill is something acquired. If the person has the attitude of wanting to learn and the aptitude to pick up new skills quickly, it may not be as important as how much experience they have, if any, doing each aspect of your job description.
The benefit of hiring someone who has the right attitude and aptitude even though they don’t have the experience that you may like is that they learn how to do things your way. This means you get to shape and mold how they do things in a way that you don’t to the same degree with someone who has experience. After all, someone with the right attitude and an aptitude to learn quickly is a much better fit than someone who knows how to do it all, but has a terrible attitude.
Looking for the right person to add to your team can be a daunting experience. As the saying goes, “Good help is hard to find.” However, if you focus on what matters most as you put together the job description and compile the list of skills required, it becomes a lot easier.
As I looked over the résumés, it occurred to me that I was focused on some of the wrong things. Back at that time, I hadn’t hired anyone before and so I had prepared a great job description by focusing on what matters most, but during the interview had looked for the person who would be outstanding in all areas. The person that I was looking to hire wasn’t going to have any contact with the customer, so professional appearance and demeanor weren’t essential to performing the specific duties for this job. So with that in mind, the kid was hired and became a valuable member of my team. I learned an important lesson that day about not judging a book by its cover. By dropping the concept of the perfect team member and focusing on what was actually required to do this job successfully, I found the next great member of my team.