A well-rounded team should consist of individuals whose skill sets and approaches to business decisions are balanced.
It’s human nature to be attracted to others who are like us.
When interviewing a job candidate, similarities can manifest in myriad ways: Your kids are on the same softball team; you share similar beliefs; you went to the same university; you look alike.
Subconsciously, these commonalities may lead you to hire someone who is similar to you, but not the best fit for the job. According to the American Sociological Review, employers are most likely to hire someone they want as a friend, rather than the person best able to do the job.
So how do you push past your natural instinct to hire for similarities and focus, instead, on finding the right differences to balance your team? To understand what you need, you first need to know what you already have.
Trust your instinct, but verify with facts.
Studies indicate we make a first impression in the first 7 seconds of meeting someone new, and those impressions are pretty hard to shake. Although we want to ensure we are hiring against specific criteria, don’t disregard that initial impression, particularly if it’s proven on point in the past.
Acknowledge it, but then spend time trying to either validate or discredit that impression with hard facts. These facts come in the form of a behavioral assessment as well as the candidate’s answers to questions posed by both you and your colleagues.
Don’t sweep aside that first impression, but treat it with suspicion.
Know thyself (and thy team).
A well-rounded team should consist of individuals whose skill sets and approaches to business decisions are balanced. Hard skills are the easiest to recognize through education and work experience. Soft skills and behavioral traits are much harder to identify, especially through the brief interactions of an interview process. In order to understand which of those soft and hard skills you require from your new hire, you’ll need to know what you’ve already got on the team.
There are a number of widely used behavioral assessment tools that will help you understand the traits of your current team, and where there are gaps. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is arguably the most recognized, but others, such as the DiSC assessment, are less time-intensive and just as informative, particularly when it comes to balancing team behaviors.
Regardless of the tool you use, the first step to understanding yourself and your team is to employ a standard form of assessment. You and your team should go through the exercise first, and then ask your finalist candidates to go through the assessment; the results will provide an additional data point to help determine whether they properly balance the skills and behaviors of the existing team.
Have an interview game plan.
Each interviewer should focus on a different area of assessment so that when you come together as a group, you will have varied points of view. For example, one interviewer could focus on technical skills; another on cross-collaboration; a third on executive presentation. This provides a valuable checks-and-balances process to help you arrive at the most informed hiring decision.
By acquiring a deeper understanding of yourself and your team and establishing a set of interview questions based on that understanding, your candidate search will be more focused, and ultimately, successful.
Karen Bertiger advises companies throughout the Puget Sound area as an executive search consultant with the Seattle-based firm Herd Freed Hartz, Inc.