Hiring a Skill Set Rather Than a Record of Success

By Dan Simmons

If you need an oil change, you don’t need to engage someone with a great track record in auto mechanics. You simply need someone with the core skills, the tools, and enough experience to get the job done. The reason you don’t need a great mechanic with a rich history of success is because your involvement with this person is transactional. You’ll be involved with them on a very limited basis.

Now, contrast that with any full-time direct-hire position on your team. You have to interact with your team members regularly, perhaps five days a week. When you recruit to fill a position on your team, should you be concentrating on the skill set or the character, history of success, passion, and desire for this particular role?

Often, people dig too deeply into someone’s skill set and fail to explore the other components.  When this happens, you’ll find someone who needs a job (or wants the money that you’re paying), but will soon leave because they have no passion for the job, don’t fit into your culture, or can do a few things well but need to be prodded to produce the desired results. This person may be disruptive to your team. Below are some steps you can take to avoid this common hiring mistake:

  • Base the job on the business or technical needs your group has, not the functions performed by the incumbent. This means an evaluation of the needs of tomorrow, not the work being produced today.
  • Interview using the “STAR” method (a behavioral interviewing technique). Provide a Situation and the Tasks to be accomplished, and then ask the candidate the Actions they would take to produce “X” Results. Ask them for examples of when they have done this in the past.
  • Determine if this person is passionate about the job and if they have a strong desire to excel. You don’t need someone to fill a seat; you need someone to excel. Interview to find stars.
  • Don’t overlook the skills piece. Make certain they actually have the skills they claim. Check references.
  • Make certain that you have a cultural fit. Ask about the environments they feel the most comfortable in. See how they like to be coached. Determine if they’re a self-starter or if constant supervision is needed. Dig into the culture of their previous employers and find out how the person felt while working there and their level of success.

These tips will help you find a top performer who has the skills and drive to get the job done while also fitting into your culture.

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