Smart firms realize it’s better to hire a good guy and teach him the right skills than to hire a skilled psycho. Resumes tell employers something about skill sets, but little about candidates’ personalities. It takes the right interviewing techniques to figure out which people will be the best fit for your firm and to avoid hiring nightmares. Linda Bryan, owner of Dallas-based Tamlin Software Developers, was the poster woman for how not to select staff. “I was a disaster,” she confesses. “I hired some real goofballs, really weird people that didn’t work out.” These poor decisions resulted in a high turnaround, which can financially burden any company, as well as some embarrassing situations. One day a Fortune 100 drug company client came to the computer consulting company’s offices to discuss a large project and was waiting for one of Bryan’s new hires—someone who seemed “very business like and sharp”—for nearly two hours. She never would have expected the excuse he provided when he made his grand entrance. “He was supposed to show up at 9 and at 11:30, here he comes barreling through the conference room door and his hair is all disheveled and his suit is actually torn on the sleeve and we all just look at him and he says, ‘I’m sorry I’m late. There was this exotic bird and I’m an exotic bird lover and I jumped through a wired fence [chasing it] and it ripped my coat.’ He just went off,” Bryan recalls. “I just thought ‘You’re so fired.’ That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I thought I have got to get better at this.” She started asking advice and others told her she needed to hire on attitude, not aptitude. When she thought about it, she realized that she had hired people who had the right skills on paper but not the right personality. She found a book called “The Smart Interviewer,” which taught her how to ask questions that would allow her to get to know candidates to better determine whether they would fit into Tamlin’s culture. Only if they pass that part of the interview do they get tested on their technical know-how. “I started using that interview process and we started calling it the Good Guy Test. The first thing is do you have the right attitude/the right personality to fit in here. Then the second thing is do you have the right skills. It’s the reverse of what I used to do,” Bryan says. “Since then we’ve had some good longevity and some really good people.” It is not uncommon these days to have prospects meet their future colleagues to see how well they jibe. Some companies invite candidates to lunch. Others have subordinates interview their potential bosses. Just because a candidate doesn’t connect with the rest of your staff doesn’t mean he or she is not a talented individual. Every firm has different policies and ways of doing business. It just means that this particular individual is a bad fit for your particular firm’s needs. It behooves both the employer and employee to figure this out before signing on the dotted line and risk having to “mutually agree to part ways” soon thereafter.
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