Every job candidate, no matter what they might tell you, has their strengths and their weaknesses. What’s key is how they tie into your organization’s goals and vision, and if their skill-set and experience adds up to the kind of employee that can help take your company to the next level.
Here’s a look at some of the main skills and strengths applicants might bring to the table—and how you can best prioritize them to make prudent decisions that have your organization’s best interests at heart.
Let’s face it, there are positions (such as C-level executives) that require extensive seasoning, and others that any newbie can be trained to handle properly. So while some might claim “there’s no substitute for experience,” it’s a mistake to apply that cliché to every opening. Don’t overpay for an experienced hand if the position focuses on a task that anyone can be trained to do; DO go the extra mile (and expense) to bring in a seasoned professional for your company’s top positions. And thoughtfully examine the numerous mid-level positions on a case-by-case basis.
ACUMEN VERSUS ATTITUDE
Would you rather hire someone with dazzling skills and imperfect attitude, or someone with a less-impressive background who’s overflowing with enthusiasm? The bottom line is you can teach someone job skills who doesn’t already have them; but you can’t really teach someone a good attitude if they’re entrenched in a negative mind-set. Also, enthusiasm (and pessimism) can be contagious; by bringing in upbeat employees who buy into the company philosophy, you feed into a positive atmosphere that is a profound boon to any work environment.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Even if the position you’re filling isn’t centered on communication, a candidate’s communication skills (or lack of them) aren’t something to be taken lightly. Communication ability will impact how someone works as part of a team, represents the company, and shares their ideas with co-workers. Fill your staff with employees who communicate well and you’ll likely be rewarded with a cohesive group that works well together and stays on the same page with their goals.
TIME FOR TEAMWORK
No matter how skilled or talented a candidate might be, if they’re not a ‘team player’ that can be a serious red flag. Of course, anyone can and will claim to a great team member, so try to make your interview question/s go beyond the cursory. For example, what skills or approaches specifically make them thrive within a team? What is the most satisfying team project they’ve ever worked on? What do they enjoy most about working closely with co-workers?
Creativity, like attitude, isn’t really something you can still instill in an employee if they don’t already possess it. If inventiveness is crucial to the position you’re filling, seeing how well a candidate thinks ‘on their feet’ is one good way to test how original their thinking is. So don’t be afraid to ask some questions that put their powers of spontaneity to the acid test. What would they name a new company newsletter for example? Do they have any suggestions for making your organization’s website more unique? And so on…creative people don’t’ mind being ‘put on the spot’—they thrive on it.
Techie skills have obviously become more prevalent (and necessary) since the explosion of the Internet, but keep in mind that many basic tech abilities can be learned fairly quickly. So while it’s great to have high-tech staffers, it can be imprudent to give major bias to a candidate based on them being a tech wiz; in a nutshell, keep in mind you can teach technical skills—but not creativity or a good attitude. These days pretty much everyone has worked with technology to some extent. It’s not that tech capability should be overlooked, but it can be a misstep to hire entirely on that skill alone.