I have spent a couple of sessions working with a client who wants what he calls a “Mature” employee. I want to explore both what he means by this and how we can evaluate maturity before you hire someone.
To set people’s mind at ease, he does not have an age factor when he says Mature. He means a responsible, level headed employee that he can use as a front line supervisor. When he first started describing the employee to others to get referrals, he only talked to them about the technical skills required in the position. He received several referrals, but none of them had the personality that he needed. We began to talk about the job description and I saw the hole that he had left in his description.
So now he has started to get better candidates but not the right person yet. One of the things we talked about is that this person will represent him to other employees and to customers. We talked about decision making (more on this later). He said he wanted them to make the right calls. I said no, what you want is someone that would make the calls the same way that you would. This has two implications. First, he needs to explain to his employees and the candidates something about his philosophy. I have talked about this extensively under Branding as a topic. This is why I believe you need to align employees with your Brand. If you don’t tell them, then they will use their own judgement. The way to achieve Alignment around this is to live your Brand and to ensure that is it well understood. Then you can ask interview questions about this topic. Even better, you can ensure that the candidate is clear on how you want things to work before you talk to him or her. Then you can validate their understanding of how you want them to make their choices.
From an external standpoint, he asked me if the person’s personal life and business life was likely to be similar. Why yes they are! That means if someone neglects their obligations in their personal life then that is a good indication that they will neglect their duties at work. This is not a perfect filter, but is a pretty good starting point. Now clearly there are some things that are out of bounds to ask candidates, but you can do a background check. In California, financial checks are out of bounds – but not in all states. But you may wish to do check 3 references as well as perform a valid background check. Again, this is not perfect but should help you weed out candidates that don’t run their life in a way that you would expect a supervisory employee to do.
So, there it is. Decision making and the soft skills around work behavior can be important to many positions. How do you approach understanding candidates on this scale?
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