The only thing worse than a bad hire is the bad hire you could have…
By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Of course I’m not trying to hire myself, you say. How silly is that? But, your actions during the hiring process might reveal that you’re doing exactly that.
No BV practice leader or manager starts out with the thought of hiring someone just like them. Most people take the time to create a job description, or at least give some thought to the responsibilities of the position. If you’ve done any advertising, you’ve probably included verbiage about the years of experience required to handle the job.
Even so, it’s easy to slip into a “hire in your own image” mode as you begin to interview.
One indication that you’re hiring in your own image is that you dwell on the shortcomings of your candidates. That’s often a sign that you’re measuring them against your own level of knowledge and/or experience. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have standards and expectations. But, it does mean that your standards and expectations should be realistic for the role you’re hiring to fill.
Another clue is that you’re asking technical questions about valuation which you think your candidate should demonstrate a better grasp of, but you overlook the disparities in your experience. To put it another way, you’ve known what you know for so long that you’ve forgotten what it’s like not to know it.
Although you don’t want to attempt to replicate your own particular path, or combination of experience, there are characteristics of yours which are important to look for. One of the most important is integrity. Can your candidate be counted on to be honest and fair in serving your clients? Or, will she take shortcuts that will cause trouble in the end? Try asking:
• Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make something look better than it really was?
• Tell me about an instance when you had to go against company policies or procedures in order to get something done.
• Have you ever observed someone stretching the rules at work? What did you do about it?
Another of those characteristics is motivation. This doesn’t necessarily mean measuring your candidate’s willingness to put in the hours you put in to make your practice what it is today. But, it does mean investigating whether your candidate has a grounding of belief and principle that can be counted on when the going gets tough. Will your candidate devote herself to serving clients like you do? Or, will she jump ship at the first signs of trouble, or if a better opportunity comes along? Try asking:
• If you think about a time when you were operating at peak performance in your job, what was motivating you?
• Can you give me an example of when you kept going for a goal when others gave up?
• Tell me about a recent engagement you worked on that gave you a great deal of personal satisfaction. What was it that made you feel that way?
Yes, there are ways in which it’s futile to try to hire another you. And yet there are other ways in which you do want to pay attention to how your candidate measures up. The key, of course, is knowing the difference.