Most job postings include boilerplate descriptions of characteristics so numerous that only a saint—or perhaps the role’s current employee—could fulfill them. Strong leaders take time to highlight only those characteristics critical to success in a position.
Interestingly, the technical characteristics of a job are typically less important than the nontechnical aspects. Although some jobs require a clear set of technical capabilities, there is a wider berth for most positions.
Generally, success in a position is more related to attributes like motivation, attitude, energy, drive, communication skills, and the ability to work well with others. A wise manager considers these skills first and technical skills second.
When hiring for “fit” rather than for technical acumen, the hiring manager interviews in a much different manner. The interview should focus on how well a candidate relates and thinks, and not as much on the candidate’s education, previous experience, or credentials.
Behavioral interviewing using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) can be very enlightening in uncovering how a candidate behaves in different situations.
Using this method, the candidate is asked to provide an example of a complex business situation on which they worked, the task or specifics of what was required, the actions taken by the candidate, and the result, with detail on metrics and impact.
The interviewer wants to hear how the work was carried out; the result is extraneous.
Do candidates cite how they worked with others, how they overcame unusual circumstances, and how they communicated with their teams?
The interviewer listens for whether the candidate takes or shares credit, and for the strength of their resolve in the face of challenges. This kind of interview provides the manager with a wealth of knowledge beyond merely understanding if the candidate’s education and technical background match the position.
Indeed, it gives the manager greater insight into whether or not the candidate is likely to succeed in the position.
When you embark on your next hiring search, be sure to identify the qualities that will make a candidate successful beyond basic technical expertise. By examining the position you hope to fill, you may be surprised to find that you see the position in a whole new light.
THE TAKEAWAY: Technical expertise and previous employment are the bare minimums when hiring for a position. “Fit” indicators like coachability, motivation, and communication style can better indicate how a new hire will fare.
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