As I work with practices one of the things I evaluate, while helping them achieve greater success, is their talent. I often come across an individual who has been performing poorly for quite some time, but whose manager has not taken any real action to help the individual perform better, or to help them find a better fit somewhere else. When I ask the question “Would you hire them again tomorrow?” there is usually very little hesitation in getting the “no” out. Often we can trace poor hires back to flaws in the recruiting process that allowed them to become part of the team in the first place. We all make mistakes in hiring, but keeping three red flags in mind as we interview can greatly improve our chances of finding all stars for our team.
If you see any of these flags pop up in your interview process, move on to the next candidate. Don’t allow the fact that you like the candidate personally, or really need to get someone in the role quickly, cause you to bring a bad hire aboard.
You can spot this pretty quickly when you ask questions about their previous employers and the challenges they have faced. Ask about why they left a job or want to leave their current one and if you hear the words “they, he or she” very often…run. It usually comes out as “He was a terrible boss” or “She was a micromanager.” The bottom line here is that if any of their challenges are characterized as someone else’s fault, you are interviewing a victim who is not accountable for his or her own success or failure. You can coach these people, but it takes skill, time and effort. In the recruiting phase of the relationship it’s easier and better for your practice to move on.
The Credit Hog
This shows up when the candidate takes all of the credit for anything their previous team or practice accomplished. We know that no one person usually owns all of the credit for a remarkable innovation or a breakthrough process, but some people are willing to take it. If they were part of a team that did some impressive things, but position themselves to be the sole reason things got done around there, it’s a sign that they won’t value their teammates at your place either. Either that, or they are willing to exaggerate the truth to make themselves look better. In both cases, you can find a better hire.
Find something that wasn’t as good as it could have been in a previous role they held and ask them what they did to change it. If you hear “I told them…”, what you may be dealing with is someone who loves to call out problems, but is rarely part of the solution. Your practice thrives when you have people who take accountability and solve challenges, not just yell “Fire!” and wait for someone else to put it out. Push on this answer a little and ask them what specific action they took to solve the problem. If you get more of the “telling” kind of action, let someone else in another practice get to be this person’s coach.
There’s a lot of pressure to move quickly when we have an open position, in order to get the work done without overworking your existing team members. Hiring though, is more about finding the right fit and someone who will help your practice take steps forward, even if it takes a little bit longer to find that person. You usually only get a few conversations to figure this out. Spend them looking for red flags and reasons not to hire someone and you will end up with the right candidate who can help your practice grow and succeed.