Choose This, Not That

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Choose your wayIn this very competitive employee market, everyone is looking for that top talent that would best represent the company, best grow the business and best serve partners and customers. But most of us have experienced first-hand the folly and consequences of those bad-hires that have missed the mark – maybe not in a ‘bad’ way, but in a way that means lost opportunity, and lost time. Here are some rules of thumb I suggest, when you face two apparently equally-qualified candidates for that critical position.

  1. Passion vs. Efficiency. Choose the one who is more passionate about the role, the task and the business. Sometimes you might find someone more efficient than passionate, and that’s good too, but the passionate one will more likely have more fortitude, more perseverance and more patience for the long run.
  2. Education vs. Experience. Some companies and hiring managers look for the right degree from the right school. But I’m personally more impressed by how someone has applied that education in the work context, to produce tangible results. (And I’m personally *not* impressed with companies and pseudo-leaders who are snobbish about educational pedigree.)
  3. In-depth knowledge vs. Openness to learning.  It’s wonderful to meet someone who knows the ins and outs of technologies, processes and solutions, and even more wonderful if he or she is open to learning new ways of doing things. But if you had to choose one or the other, choose the one who is more open. For anyone who thinks that they know how things are done/should be done may not be able to shift with the speed of business, especially when you need to do it quickly!
  4. Process vs Agility. Of course you want someone who is efficient and puts processes in place so that she or he doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel at every turn. But you also want someone agile and nimble enough to flex with the needs of customers and markets. Ideally you need both, but if you had to choose, go with those who are agile and customer-minded, yet efficient and process-driven.
  5. In the box vs. Out of the box. When you’re in-the-box, you know the ins and outs of the business, the technologies, the people around you. Thinking and acting out-of-the-box is good, when done well, but it can also be disrupting and disconcerting for those around you, so of course you need a balance. If you have to choose, select the out-of-the-box thinker and doer who knows how to communicate the whys and whats before making others around them feel uncomfortable.
  6. Speak vs. Listen. Any great leader is also a great communicator. But most leaders don’t know that speaking with impact comes only after listening to those around you. So get the quiet candidates to speak their mind, and don’t assume that they would be too quiet and too complacent for the job. And teach her or him how to speak after listening.
  7. Thorough vs. Intuitive. If your thorough candidate follows the 80-20 rule, it’s all good. And if your intuitive candidate is basing intuition on data, that’s also all good. And if you have to choose one or the other, for most roles, the intuitive who understand the data is better. The exception is when a role needs to be extremely thorough, and every nuance of data and task is important, and much rides on the data and information available, go with the more thorough candidate.
  8. And vs Or. You have candidates who are very competitive and speak to their greatness in delivering specific results. And you have candidates who talk about the efforts of the team and how together the team is greater than individual members. This ‘and’ thinking is the kind of collaborative mind set which will better help your company, than the ‘or’ thinking that characterizes how someone is trying to sell herself or himself over someone else who is equally qualified for the role.
  9. Inclusive vs Selective. You will have candidates who have a track record for working with disparate teams and people, and those who have a track record for working with people just like them. Both are good, but if you had to choose, the one with experience working with diverse people would be more open to working with diverse teams, customers, technologies and requirements.
  10. Breadth vs. Depth. Although doing a deep-dive in any one technology, industry, company or market is also a very good thing, breadth in education, role, experience, company and industry will bring you a more well-rounded candidate.

These are my opinions based on what I’ve seen over 25 years in working with tech business experiencing much change. I’m sure that your mileage will vary, and I welcome your thoughts! But I also hope that my thoughts above will help you weigh which candidate would work better for you.

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