Most challenger brands agree that their people are their greatest asset. In many industries, the difference between organizations frequently comes down to the quality of their people. More importantly, for most companies, the revenue-generating difference between reeling in a big fish and drifting aimlessly on the water is the fisher. All things being equal, the company with the best people win.
Perhaps that statement should be altered a bit: The company with the best people for that organization’s unique culture wins. “Best” is a subjective, term that means different things to different people.
What makes the best french fries? That depends. Thin shoestring fries or thick, wedge-cut potato fries? (And don’t get me started on hashbrowns or tater tots.) “Best” is in the eyes of the beholder as well as the circumstance. Give me a salty, crispy shoestring fry with my burger. But if I’m having a New York Strip, pair that medium-rare sirloin with a plate of extra long, extra wide steak fries. The fries, like talent, depend on my need.
Here are tips for tapping top talent:
Source talent that matches your culture.
Recognize the importance of adding personnel that will not only fit in but will contribute to your community and elevate it. We look at bringing in talent the way many university admissions officers look at bringing in students. It comes down to answering two simple questions:
- Can you do the work? In college, can you keep up with the academic rigor? In the professional work environment, do you have the skills to handle the work requirements identified in the published job description? These are the hard skills.
- Will the environment be better because of your presence? On campus, are you contributing to university life? In the workplace, are you helping to elevate the overall quality of the organization? These are the soft skills.
Hire for character, train for skills.
You can’t do it the other way around. We say that a lot. Yet, our hardwired left-brain fights us whenever we find candidates who have a proven track record of doing the work. We sometimes ignore potential character flaws (either intentionally or subconsciously) to bring in the more trained, less engaging option. Character can’t be trained. It’s innate. You either have a sense of humor or you don’t.
You are built to be responsible, punctual, respectful, considerate, empathetic, supportive, competitive and trustworthy or you’re not. Not many HR departments are offering training modules in “Keeping your cool when the client changes the deliverables and moves up the deadline to this afternoon: A 5-part video series on how to not wig out.”
The challenge with hiring character is that it is tremendously difficult to assess in a series of interviews. We like to ask questions that might offer a glimpse into the candidate’s psyche. Here are 10 questions that place the individual in scenarios that may require some finesse or that expose specific character traits:
- Imagine you’re out with some friends and you’ve recommended a restaurant for the tired and very hungry group. It’s 9:30 p.m. and the restaurant closes at 10. When the server comes to take your order, you are told the kitchen is closed but you are welcome to order drinks. As the spokesperson for the group, how do you address the situation?
- Have you ever wanted to give up? Tell me about that.
- Has there ever been a moment in your life when you’ve been truly satisfied?
- Who do you admire?
- Assume you took this job. It’s perfect — the right role, the right salary, the right environment. The day you start work, you get a call from another company with a better offer. What would make the offer better?
- What’s your superpower?
- Do you more frequently find yourself waiting on others or are they waiting on you? How does that make you feel?
- If you were a football team, what would be your mascot?
- Assume you have been going to the same grocery store for years. One day, you walk in and the store has been turned upside down. Everything has been moved. Nothing is where it used to be. How would that make you feel?
- Are you involved in your community?
Hire with an eye to the future.
When sourcing talent, are you looking to fill your currently open position or are you considering future roles for this individual? Interview candidates to assess their ability to tackle the job at hand as well as potential next-level roles. This approach not only builds your bench strength and prepares your organization for growth, but it provides the candidate with a vision of their own career path and offers a sense of long-term opportunity. Think ahead. Hire ahead.
*Originally published by Forbes Agency Council June 12, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/07/10/three-tips-to-tap-top-talent/#2ad38c002ca9