Bringing in the wrong members to your management team, whether you promote from within or bring in an outside hire, can have disastrous results. When managers fail to maintain accountability or communicate effectively with employees, it has a ripple effect throughout your organization and can cost you multiple accounts.
To stop this from happening, it’s important to ask the right questions during the hiring process. That means going beyond the generic, standard interview questions and getting into a real conversation about how the applicant would fit on your team. Here are a few questions you can ask to more accurately judge the suitability of potential managers.
How Would You Describe Our Company?
This question is best for if the candidate has come to you, rather that if it’s someone you’re actively recruiting. In that situation, of course, you want to define the image of your company in their minds to give the best possible impression.
However, if you are trying to choose between a number of candidates, this can be a great question to decide how serious someone is about the job and whether they share your mission. An unserious candidate might give you a generic answer, while someone that really wants to work for you will have taken the time to research your company and understand your specific value proposition.
“Hiring someone that’s not totally engaged will be a problem that you will have to deal with month after month, week after week,” said Johnny on today’s episode. This question can filter out those who are engaged with those that just view it as another job.
As a follow-up, you can ask candidates about what specific role they see for themselves in the company. Their answer here will show not just that they’ve researched your company but that they can see themselves as a contributing part of the team.
The Layover Test
No matter how qualified and engaged a manager is, ultimately you need to have some level of personal compatibility. You’re going to be working in close quarters, and you have to get along with them and be able to communicate effectively.
As a test, after the interview, imagine being stuck on extended layover with the candidate. You don’t have to be excited by the idea, but if the idea of spending a few hours alone with this person fills you with dread, how do you think you’re going to manage working with them day in and day out year after year?
Try to get input from other team members as well. A lot of people in your organization will have to work with this person, so make sure there are no obvious personality conflicts before you hire them.
Do A Trial Run
Before you actually hire anyone, consider bringing in your preferred applicant to shadow some of your other managers for a couple days. This is a great way to make sure both parties totally understand how the position would work out if you do go forward in the hiring process.
From the applicant’s side, they get a chance to see their job in action and understand how it affects the various aspects of the company. For your own part, it’s a chance to see how quickly they can learn the various job requirements and to get a sense of they way they’d interact with people at all levels of your company.
It takes some extra work at first, but this investment really pays off. Dan Vincent of Vernon Security, who we interviewed all the way back in Episode 3, described developing people as the most important thing he can do as a business owner.
Could You Picture Yourself Handing This Person The Keys?
This is not about qualifications or training. Presumably any candidate you’re seriously considering will be qualified for the position, but even an inexperienced person can usually be taught standard operating procedures.
What you want to assess here are the things that can’t be taught: work ethic, accountability, honesty, and other inherent qualities. You want to hire someone that you can trust, that you can imagine going on vacation and turning over a key part of your business to them.
We talked to a British company recently that was launching in the U.S. and needed to hire a management team from scratch. What they ended up doing was hiring people from outside the industry, with the idea that the nuances of the industry could be taught, but the insights of bright and engaged people with different perspectives were irreplaceable.
Ultimately, the key is to have a well-defined process where you’re asking these questions of yourself and the applicant every step of the way. Be clear with your expectations, and let applicants know the timeline of the hiring process so that everyone’s on the same page.
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