Imagine you had a choice of hiring one of two candidates for your business. The first had years of experience, was highly qualified and boasted a strong track record. The second was a junior player, ambitious yet untested. Many businesses 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 advisors. On paper, businesses may seem like a machine powered by staff who form the cogs and wheels. In reality, businesses are social organisations that rely on a 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. Just consider the differing cultures of Qantas and Virgin. The same is true of smaller businesses.
When screening employees, 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 business functions. If a prospective employee shares your vision for the business, they are more likely to work well alongside your other staff.
Recruiters recommend using behavioural traits as a guide to screening candidates. After writing a job description based on the activities required, write down the type of characteristics and traits an employee would require.
If the position is replacing a valuable employee, write down the outgoing staff member’s traits, skills and characteristics as a starting point. Make sure you include the behavioural characteristics in the text 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 businesses with unconventional approaches to their field can find that employees hired away from competitors are less keen to do something that contradicts their training. Instead those businesses might do better hiring younger staff who are less set in their ways.