Should We Stop Looking For Team Players?

Steve Jobs

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Jeff Altman, a recruiter for many years, shared this viewpoint in an article:

“Stop looking for team players. When you do, you announce that you don’t want people who can think and want people who are docile and obedient. You’re saying that Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell and a host of others should never apply to your firm.”

What do you think about that?

Do you think we should take “team player” out of the hiring equation?

Let’s look at this a bit.

If you’re looking for someone who will bring brilliant ideas to your company and you don’t care if he roughs up your current staff — then, well, have at it.

I imagine some of the greatest businessmen and women and some of the creative giants were difficult to get along with.

But may I emphasize the word: “some.”

Yes, some of the greatest leaders and creators in our world have been deficient in people skills.

Some.

I would say, however, that most of them have brought exceptional quality to both their creativity and leadership and to their ability to get along with others. We just don’t hear about them as much, do we?

If you get the idea that you can and should hire someone who is brilliant but is somewhat or even very abusive, then you’ve decided to be in a continual state of juggling his worth versus his harm to your company.

Here’s a very simple and direct question:

Is it possible you can find a brilliant individual, someone capable of bringing dramatic, positive change who also possesses that not-so-elusive ability to get along with others?

You can certainly answer that for yourself.

Here’s my answer:

Absolutely.

When you encounter a recommendation to undervalue qualities that you know are essential to your way of doing things, think twice and even a third time before you accept that advice.



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If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


What Are We Really Looking For?

Socrates

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Yes, what are we really looking for: someone to get the work done for awhile or someone we can count on to be with us for years to come?

For the positions with routine turnover, this question is fairly easy to answer.

But what about the key positions?

Has the hiring culture changed so much that even the key positions are experiencing routine turnover?

I know we touched on this subject in a couple of earlier tips, but I’d like to give another perspective here if I could.

When it comes to long term commitment, what do we feel we have the right to look for and require?

If we travel back into the past some, qualities such as loyalty and allegiance were sought after and sometimes demanded.

Now, when I say “back into the past,” I’m not referring to medieval times with nobles and serfs.

For the greater part of the 20th century, when we hired for key positions, there was often an agreement between the employer and the prospective employee — whether openly stated or not — that important positions required a healthy commitment in time. The further back you went, the more the concept of allegiance played a role.

But here we are, well into the 21st century, and what can we expect? What can we require?

Has the hiring landscape changed so much that now every position is subject to routine turnover?

I think, for many of us, the answer is yes.

If we’re looking for commitment and even loyalty, we realize these qualities are earned, not just given.

That seems fair, right? The prospective employee is checking you out while you are checking out the prospective employee.

Let’s say you’re hiring for a key position and you’ve got a very qualified candidate in front of you. The résumé, the background checks, their test scores and the hiring interviews all look great. Before you make that decision, it might be worth your while to have one more conversation.

Have a conversation about commitment. Find out what that means to your candidate. Does it have any importance to them? And you should ask about it both ways. How important is it that their new company show commitment to them? And how important do they see their side of that coin?

It’s possible this conversation could influence your final decision.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Goals, Goals, Goals — How Important Are They?

Employee Goals

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We all have goals.

We set goals for the next five minutes, for the next couple of hours, for the next few days and so on.

When I walk into my local Barnes and Nobles’ book store, my goal is to peruse through a couple of books I haven’t read yet while I savor a mocha Frappuccino.

When I start a new week of work, one goal I’m definitely pursuing is to produce more than I did the previous week.

To varying degrees, I think we all have these short term goals. They may not always be clear in our minds, but goals kind of move us along from one episode in life to the next.

Many of us have longer term goals. What do we want to be doing in one year? In five years? In twenty years?

Or we may express this as something we want to have. What do we want to have in a year’s time? In 5 or 20 years time? A really nice house. An expensive car. A family with wonderful kids.

Some of us set very long term goals that span a lifetime. Along this line are:

• I’d like to be remembered as someone who…

• I want my legacy to be…

So, short term goals, long term goals and all kinds of goals in between.

If it is important for you to know what your applicant’s goals are, here are a few questions you could ask:

“Mary, what are your goals for this interview?”

“Mary, if hired, what would be your goals for your first thirty days here?”

“From a work perspective, where do you see yourself in five years?”

“How long do you see yourself working with us?”

“Are you looking for a long term position with us, and, if so, how do you envision that working out?”

I’m sure you can come up with other questions.

You may find the person in front of you says he doesn’t have any goals other than to get hired, do a good job for someone, get paid and keep his options open for the future. Fair enough. And good to know.

Or the person may say she absolutely loves what you do, has had a burning desire to work for a company like yours and would love to make a career of it.

And of course everything in between.

Asking your applicant to discuss their goals with you is a legitimate way to find out more about them and whether they’ll be a good fit for your company.

But you may also find out their goals are not well established…now…but after six months working with you, they may become well established.

So, for me, it’s somewhat of a toss up. It’s good to delve into this area, but don’t make it a deal breaker.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


What About the Diamond In the Rough?

Diamond in the rough?

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Ed comes in to interview for an important position and you can’t believe it. He looks and acts like he doesn’t care whatsoever if he gets the job or not.

He’s wearing a T-Shirt and frayed jeans, his hair isn’t combed and you’re not sure, but you think that’s ketchup on his chin.

His greasy hand slides right out of the handshake and just when you’re wondering when he last had a shower, the first thing out of his mouth is “Whassup?”

You can probably guess where we’re going with this tip. Your first and overriding impulse is to thank him for coming in and then show him the door.

But what if…just what if this guy is a diamond in the rough? What if Ed is a fabulous producer, gets along great with others and could be a huge asset for you?

Yes, I realize that’s a pretty big “what if” — but, every blue moon someone like Ed might very well show up. Their poor appearance and lackluster attitude give you little to no reason to want to hire them.

But what if…

What if you have an inkling that the person in front of you — despite all appearances to the contrary — may be a great hire. What if you get this “sixth sense” about him?

If you get this inkling about someone you normally wouldn’t hire 99 out of 100 times, I have a suggestion for you. Look this person in the eyes and say:

“You know, Ed. I’m kind of put off by your entire presentation here. Your appearance and behavior communicate to me that getting this job isn’t important to you. So, let me ask you: with this many strikes against you, why should I hire you?”

And sit back and give Ed a shot at convincing you he’s your guy.

If his pitch is compelling, ask him to explain his appearance and behavior, providing, of course, he shares your awareness that both were seriously lacking.

All in all, if a candidate shows up disheveled and uninspired, it’s likely he won’t care too much when he’s ‘on the job.’

But that diamond in the rough may be out there and he may end up sitting across from you. If that happens and you want to be sure you’re not discarding a potential asset, then ask very direct questions along the lines of the above and you may be able to ferret out who Ed really is.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


How Long Do You Plan On Sticking Around?

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

That’s an interesting question to ask an applicant and a simple wording would be:

“Sarah, if we hired you, how long do you plan on sticking around?”

Sarah’s answer should deliver an insight into her potential longevity with you.

If her answer doesn’t give you a good sense of commitment, that’s worth knowing ahead of time.

But that also begs the question, being asked more and more these days:

How long should a new employee commit to the company?

One could answer that question philosophically, or one could simply find out directly from the applicant.

And the interesting flip side to the question “how long do you plan on sticking around” is:

“Sarah, under what circumstances would you leave?”

Again, a fairly direct question.

If Sarah’s answer touches on things that were done “to her” at her previous jobs, that’s not the height of responsibility.

But she may also mention not feeling “sufficiently challenged” or she may be candid and project another job offer that she couldn’t turn down.

When you ask these two questions:

How long do you plan on sticking around?

and

Under what circumstances would you leave?

You could cut through some of the potentially canned (or prepared) responses and gain some good insights into your applicant.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


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