Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hire Candidates With These 5 Traits — or Prepare to Perish

Ambition: Is driven by desire to realize personal potential and improve self, your organization, and society. Key Questions: What would you like to be doing in two or three years? What’s your career goal in 10 years? You’ll need to ask follow-up questions to validate the candidate’s initial response, which could be an Interviewing 101 answer. But after this conversation, you’ll have a decent gauge if the candidate plans to transcend your organization or just collect a paycheck.

Ongoing Education: Engages in a lifelong process of introspection, searching, self-improvement, learning, and knowledge application. Key Questions: What books have had the greatest effect on your career? Part of emotional maturity is acquiring self insight; give me an example of something you recently learned about yourself. Nobody is prepared for that second question. The most common answer I hear is, “Ummm … hmmm … well …” You learn that some people just aren’t committed to bettering themselves. They’re living and working, but not really learning.

Responsibility: Is decisive and self-reliant; a dutiful grown child, sibling, spouse, parent, and employee. Key Questions: Tell me about a recent split-second decision you made on the job; why you made that decision, and how things turned out? Give me an example of when you made a mistake and fell short of your outcome. The first question will uncover if the candidate embraces critical thinking or reacts with emotion. During the candidate’s response to the second question, you’ll learn if they take 100% responsibility for a situation, rationalize the problem, or deflect accountability. If they can’t think of a time they made a mistake, that’s a red flag that the candidate lacks …

Humility: Is willing to admit personal faults, apologize, accept criticism, and give credit where credit is due. Key Questions: Give me an example of you changing your behavior for work reasons. How do you feel about the level of recognition you currently receive? You may be wondering how humility will help your company adapt for the future. If employees aren’t humble enough to embrace true transparency and quickly point out where they are failing, they won’t change course when necessary. The first question can uncover if the candidate is quick to admit, accept, and address shortcomings. The second question can elicit a variety of responses, ranging from “I do the work of five people and nobody appreciates it” to “I can’t take sole credit for that accomplishment — my teammates played a big role, too.”

Perseverance: Maintains focus and single-minded persistence in spite of obstacles. Exhibits endurance. Takes the long-term view. Key Questions: Many obstacles can prevent an organization from achieving its goals; tell me about a time when you met such an obstacle.