The success of any company or organization depends almost entirely on its most important resource: its workforce. It is the people who make up an organization who ultimately decide which revenue streams to pursue, how to deal with rising costs, how to implement marketing programs and how to monitor and sustain continued success and growth. Even in an era of significant technological resources and capabilities, a skilled team is crucial to execute your business strategy and support the bottom line.
Hiring the best people is never an exact science. While the default strategy when hiring may be to seek a candidate with a certain pedigree or work experience, these qualities are surprisingly not the most critical elements of a great hire.
Most of what we do in any job is taught in real time and can be learned. The following are three attributes I’ve found serve as key indicators of success in new hires’ performance, and my suggestions for evaluating them in an interview:
- They prioritize a desire to learn and work hard. In most cases, a simple determining question could be, “What’s something you learned that you didn’t know before your last job?” or “What do you hope to learn in this job?”
- They possess strong analytical skills. While it can be advantageous to have someone who knows your product on day one of his or her job, this does not amount for their abilities to overcome challenges. It may be better to ask, “Tell me how you would solve X problem” or “Describe a solution that you would implement to solve a specific problem in your last industry.”
- They prioritize the team benefit over personal gain. This is probably the hardest characteristic to gauge, and depends completely on your trust level of that person. A good question could be, “Tell me about how you scarified your own benefit for someone else.”
If you can find people who have the desire to be great at their jobs, who possess the kind of intelligence that is necessary for those jobs, and who have the character to keep their word and look out for the best interests of the company, you can train the rest. However, this process certainly requires more time and devotion from senior leadership, which is the probably the reason it is usually sidelined in exchange for qualifications such as experience, schools and pedigrees.
Don’t make this mistake. Take the time to hire the kind of people who will bring their own unique points of view to your company, and you will have an operation that runs efficiently and delivers the best solutions for all of your employees, customers and stakeholders.
Rahim Charania is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of American Fueling Systems. He has propelled AFS from a small startup to a recognized leader in the alternative fuel industry.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.