Being able to identify employees with long-term potential is truly an art form, and companies that get it right typically outperform those that don’t. The companies that excel have a well-defined system in addition to having key decision-makers highly engaged early on and throughout the interview process. Furthermore, companies that are successful in identifying great talent evaluate candidates based on their character first and then skills and experience. Hiring a new employee is a company investment—it is important to mitigate the risk in the investment by taking the time to get to know the candidate.
Grit, perseverance, coachability, and loyalty are better predictors of success, but conducting an interview to identify these qualities is where the real challenge lies. With so many business needs, hiring is typically not top of mind for most hiring managers. However, it needs to be if you want to put together a great team. Hiring managers need to consider: Will they fit within your organization? How well will they perform in the job you are hiring for now? How quickly do they learn? Do they have the potential to grow into a role above the one you are hiring for today? Conducting an effective interview is essential to identifying talent and minimizing your risk.
Does Your Interview Process Get to the Truth?
It is important to create an interview experience that is effective and efficient for the candidate and your company. Take time to clearly define the interview process and create an environment where candidates feel comfortable being authentic. The interview process doesn’t have to be long and drawn-out, but it does need to be deeply rooted in understanding who they are AND what they do. As the employer, you need to lead the discussion, show vulnerability, and speak your truth so they speak theirs. Getting to the truth is the essence of how you hire great people.
Is the Internal Team Aligned?
A lot of people can become involved in the hiring decision, which is where the process can sometimes go sideways. Once you’ve decided to interview a candidate, someone needs to take the lead in the interview process to ensure that everyone stays aligned. To start, clearly define with the hiring team what talent looks like at your company, who your organization needs, and what skills you’re hiring for. Clearly outline the position and the job qualifications, and ask that interviewers develop a list of questions that focus on three things: cultural fit, potential, and technical skills. For those new to interviewing, have them shadow a senior team member with more experience so he or she can pass along any wisdom that might be helpful.
Does a Candidate Have Perseverance?
The ideal candidate should possess the perseverance to overcome adversity and the grit to work through the challenges ahead. Top talent stays humble and hungry and has a desire to learn. Those who are hungry and hardworking will usually fight the hardest when the challenges are the greatest. Interviewers can dig into this by asking questions about their past experiences to determine how they make decisions, the impact those decisions have had, and what they learned that could aid them in challenges ahead. It is important to be tactful and strategic when digging into a candidate’s background because his or her past performance is a great predictor of his or her potential and future success.
How Coachable Is Your Candidate?
Throughout the interview, provide feedback when appropriate to see how he or she responds. How a candidate responds to the feedback is a great indicator for whether he or she is coachable. If a candidate is coachable, it shows that he or she is open to learning, reflection, and accountability. It means he or she wishes to grow, learn, and improve—all desirable traits for an employee. Listen closely to his or her responses, and watch his or her body language to determine the authenticity of his or her response.
Employees with grit are typically confident, determined, and highly motivated. If you and your team have conducted an effective interview, you should be able to successfully identify if a candidate is coachable and has the perseverance to get a job done despite unexpected challenges.
Remember that interviewing can be challenging on both sides, as candidates are trying to make a positive impression and employers are fiercely competing for the best talent in the marketplace. Ultimately, successful interviewing is a two-way street. In addition to finding out more about a candidate and his or her skills, goals, and qualifications, you’re also representing your company’s priorities and core values. Approaching each interview with genuine interest, curiosity, and appreciation can help you provide a positive candidate experience while also creating the best environment for learning more about each other.
Dave Poling is the Executive Director at Aerotek.