7 ways to Hire for How, Not History

Hiring the right people is everything in building a winning team. If you learn how to hire the right people, you will spend less time managing and more time guiding and leading.

When I had to hire a key member of my team as a new publisher, I hired the person with the most experience. The person I hired looked great on paper. There was a history of awards and experience that portrayed this new hire as a winner. It sure looked good on a resume.

The How Instead of the What

In those earlier years as a hiring manager, I had not learned to look beyond the resume. A person’s CV could easily impress me. I learned my lesson from this one key hire and it was a disaster. Everyone around me knew it before I did. I ended up firing the person in a matter of months. What a waste of time and a waste of resources.

This person was never the right person for the job. Their resume reflected that they had been around when great things had happened in their work history, but I didn’t ask how they had contributed. Nor did I bother to ask others that had been there about the role that this person had played. I had not check into this person’s ability to work on a team, to lead a team, and to accomplish the job each day with passion and commitment.

This lesson put me on a quest to learn everything I could about hiring the right people. Since learning what it takes, I have minimized my hiring mistakes.

Hiring for How

Hiring for job history ONLY is dangerous. When hiring the right person for your team try keeping these things in mind:

  1. Look less at what they did when, but at the role they played – Ask the perspective hire how they contributed to the success in their previous positions. Even if the person appears to be the right historical fit, it doesn’t mean they contributed well. I would rather hire a person that contributes then one that just shows up regardless of the proper experience.
  2. Explore their values at work – Instead of the usual question about one positive and one negative colleagues would offer about the person, ask what others would say they value at work. I would rather hire a person with the strongest values then the person with the best work history or degree.
  3. Have them take you through their last successful project – Listen to how they contributed and who they work with to make it a success. Listen for the “me” versus the “we” and apply it to the position you are hiring for. Sales people should use more “me” and “I”. People that accomplish things together should use more “we”.
  4. Go ahead, ask them the last book they read – I have asked this question and listened to some of the best and worst answers. The best answers are passionate regardless of the title. The worst usually has something to do with the last book assigned in school. People that value growth tend to read.
  5. Ask “What if” questions – What if you caught a coworker stealing? What if you made a mistake on a project? Questions like these allow a person to present their character.
  6. Wonder out loud if they are the right person for the job – Chances are if a person agrees with you that they just might not be the right hire, you both saved a lot of time. On the other hand, if they can articulate why they are and how they will perform each day, you are both closer to the answer.
  7. Give them the microphone – I always ask this question last, “Out of all the other candidates for this position, why are you the best person to hire?” If the candidate refers back to their resume and points to their job history, they blew it. Instead, if I hear a passionate and concise speech on why they are the ONLY person for the job, well, they have my interest. Now I just need to compare speeches and decide who is right for the job.

Resumes and CV’s only tell a Part of the Story

Just like the box score of a baseball game, a resume gives you the facts. If you want to know how many pitches, how many strikes, how many hits and how many runs, check the resume or CV.

If, however, you want to see who dove for the ball, who backed up the other players and who had a walk off grand slam, then ask better questions.

A job history tells you where a person has been. The right questions will ask where they are going and if you will then invite them along for the ride.

Here is a video from Inc. magazine. How do you apply my 7 points and this gentleman’s advice to how you hire? Please comment below.

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