Interview For Experience, Hire For Values, Train For Skills

Hire for Values Hedonist Entrepreneur Paul J LangeAs you grow a business you hire more people. The initial team will help you launch and if they remain on their own they will ultimately take you to a point of lacklustre service and a declining business.

Sounds obvious but in my experience it’s surprisingly not really on the radar of many business owners as they start out, even in their second or third serial venture. Serial as in they go from one business to the next, completely exiting the previous one and starting the next.

Hiring people is easy. If you just want a body count there are any number of willing bodies out there ready to dip their hand in your back pocket for a job. Hiring the right people is important for scalable and sustained growth, and is actually easy too, when you approach it with the right attitude, and that is sort of the point. Attitude! Do your potential hires have the right attitude? Attitude is about a way people think, feel, their mindset, and by extension their values, which drive the rest.

Hiring people is supposed to be a skill and many HR professionals make a living out of convincing business owners of this point. The honest truth is there is some skill to it and as with any skill it can be learnt. The most important part of the skill component with any hiring is understanding your businesses requirements and understanding yourself.

Understanding yourself is about understanding your limitations and your flaws in interpersonal communications. This is not to downplay the value of good HR people. There are some out there, but like finance brokers, insurance salespeople, and used car salespeople, the HR industry and departments are rife with people who are just punching a clock and picking up a pay cheque.

Check online for experience and gut impression

When I’m hiring someone the first thing I do is check out a LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, the G+ profile and Twitter account. I also Google them to find out what other accounts they have and may check out the more interesting ones like Pinterest, SunZu et al. These give me a pretty good picture of a person, who they are, what they like, where they work, and what they want the world to know about them. From all of this I have a gut feeling about the person.

Then I look at the resume and see whether this gives me the same sense or feeling of the person as I have gained about them online. If there’s a disconnect I go with my gut and what it tells me about what I found out online; either way, which could mean a crap resume but impressive online scores them the next step interview.

My first checkbox is whether or not they have the relevant experience based on their past escapades. If they have the relevant experience and I like everything else I’ve seen online I’ll invite to for an interview. Bottom line here is do I think they have the  experience necessary to do the job I need done.

If they are totally new to the workforce, never had a job in their life, I have to make a judgement call based on what I’ve seen about them online.

Also whether they have experience or not, the way they present their resume tells me more about them than what they write in the resume in terms of business or worldly experience/exposure, natural creativity, sloppy, precise and a plethora of other micro-indicators.

Interview to confirm your gut and qualify experience

During the interview process I’m looking for a cultural fit. I want to know if they will gel well with the rest of the team. If I’ve done my job right up until this point the rest of the team will share common values with me. This really is a crucial point.

Now, if you are the team, as in you’re a one man band, one might think it is even easier but actually it’s harder. This is because unless you are very mindful of everything about yourself, you have no external physical representation of your values transferred to confirm what you think about yourself. So you have to be even more conscious of your potential flaws.

To make it through the the interview successfully means that a potential new team member is a good cultural fit for the company and will gel well with the rest of the team. The fact they made it to the interview means they have the necessary experience in the field I need, which indicates a level of skill.

Job employment = On the job training

Even without skills though, as in the case of a new career starter, or with limited skills for the role description, these are things that can be taught and learned. Every good employer has a training budget irrespective of what legislation in your area says about it; and this is, IMHO, exactly one of the reasons we have training budgets.

We invest in people who are an asset to our companies because they share values and contribute to our success. Clock punching consumer employees are leeches on business and society. They should seek other employment, and employers should have the fortitude to ‘assist them on their way’ rapidly, if you have made the error of hiring them in the first place.

The current standard of HR and hiring generally is focus on skills and experience. Values don’t even get a look in. It’s analog approach to filling the requirements of building DNA based supercomputers.

Everyone in any form of employment should approach it from the perspective of learning and training. The minute you stop learning and acquiring new skills yo start to become a liability to the business. In “In Search of Excellence” it was said that every job helps you to rise to your own level of incompetence. Put differently, you will outgrow every role and every company when there is no opportunity for you to learn anything further or train up on new skills.

Passion -> Purpose -> Position

During the interview I ask what the potential new team member is passionate about, what do they love to do. If it doesn’t connect to the position then it’s pretty much end of interview. Because people think differently, to check I’m on track, I’ll ask them how that relates to the role they are applying for. The perspectives they come back with may help to create a new idea or develop a strategy differently in the business.

The final questions I ask is why they want the job. For me part of the values evaluation is people who have and know their purpose. People can have multiple purposes and I’m looking for the thing that is going to keep them mindful and focused on the tasks they are appointed to perform.

Hiring for skills followed by experience can be hit and miss and builds little to no loyalty within a team.  Hiring for values builds loyalty, experience provides an expanded knowledge base or brains trust in your company, and skills are simply a commodity.

About the Author

- Paul is an international veteran of business finance and both online and offline service industries, with more than three decades of relevant industry experience in operational, strategic growth and expansion, and leadership. Paul knows what it takes to make business successful, especially in highly competitive environments. His secret is simple. Do business with people who share your values, respect others, contribute more than you consume, and have fun. Paul is a business founder, former C-Level executive, mentor to senior executives, corporate trainer, author, keynote speaker, and investor. His understanding of business at both a high-level helicopter view and at the detailed level of day to day operations is just one trait that makes him attractive as an ally to the C-Suite, investors and private financiers. Paul holds seats on the boards and advisory boards of several companies. He is also the principal strategy consultant to a select number of businesses, private investors and boutique investment funds. His specialist area is brand loyalty and customer experiences. Paul has owned, operated and exited several successful businesses across multiple industries, and has helped others who want to expand to build their companies, ranging from startups to mature businesses. One of his biggest successes is helping a local Australian finance brokerage company grow from startup to a loan book of over one billion dollars. You can read more about Paul on his personal website www.paullange.com.au

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