Building an effective team begins with the hiring process. The focus needs to be that candidates will be good team members rather than just standout performers.
Involve the team. Any manager who is serious about building a high-performance team must start from this point of view and create a hiring process that involves a cross section of the team. Done right, this is the quickest way to size up the contenders and eliminate the wrong ones. This requires a significant amount of trust on the part of the manager, who must walk the talk.
The challenge is to convince the team that interviewing is an important part of their jobs. The chosen interviewers are there to find a new teammate who will work with them to solve problems and never let them down. If you give the interviewers a meaningful voice in the decision, they will be prepared and give the candidate a good picture of the team’s dynamics. This shows respect for the candidate who may soon become part of the team.
Don’t waste time. Involving the team doesn’t mean killing the candidate with multiple interviews, repeating the same questions again and again. Make sure your interview process doesn’t waste anyone’s time.
Key points in the interview process are:
- Have the candidate interview with the manager and 3-4 members of the team – max.
- Separate the interviews by topic.
- Only one of these interviews needs to focus on the technical requirements of the assignment. Any interviewer who handles the technical aspects of the job should be as knowledgeable as the candidate. Ideally that person will be the manager, but that’s not always the case.
- The other interviews are more concerned with the cultural and values aspects – how will the candidate fit into the corporate culture and the team environment. Do the cultural/work style interviews concurrently. There is no need for the candidate to go through this part of the interview process multiple times.
- The challenge is to draw out the candidates to quickly see which ones have the ability to do the work and are really interested in the work.
- In both interviews, ask questions relating to identifying and solving real, live problems in the work. The subject must always be the work. It’s the only topic that will give you a window into the candidate’s personality, thinking, work ethic and background.
- Evaluate and decide quickly.
- Have all the interviewers complete a standard assessment form to ensure consistent evaluation. At a minimum, this should include:
- Ability to do the work – did the candidate demonstrate that he could deliver?
- Cultural fit – can the candidate work with me to explore ways to get the work done?
- Knowledge – does the candidate have ideas and opinions backed up by solid reasoning?
- Communication skills – how effectively did the candidate express his ideas and opinions?
- Potential – our challenges will change; has the candidate demonstrated the ability to think, learn and grow?
- Rate each section on a scale from 1 to 5 and have an area to write free-form comments.
- Once all interviews are complete, the interviewers should convene as a group as soon as possible (within one day) to review their individual assessments and rank the candidates.
- All interviewers should have an equal voice. This can be the most difficult part for a hiring manager, but it is extremely important for team members to feel they are part of the process and to give their time.
Involve your team the right way in the hiring process and you’ll build a great team.