Many business owners today are looking for specific skills when they hire employees but it turns out, skills may be less important than personal characteristics. In addition, you may also overlook the potential in the employees you already have. Many people can learn new skills and training improves morale and productivity among your staff.
Some of the most successful companies look for personal characteristics rather than specific skills in new hires. In a Fast Company article, Peter Carbonara describes the hiring practices Nucor Steel, Silicon Graphics and Southwest Airlines uses.
Jose Colmenares of Southwest Airlines looks for people that have energy, humor, team spirit and self-confidence Carbonara explains. Southwest looks for people that really fit into their culture, for people who put customer needs before their own, who have a sense of mission in service. They have applicants complete statements like: “One time my sense of humor helped me was…” and “My personal motto is….”
The most important principle for good hiring practices? “Hire for attitude and train for skill.”
Eric Lane of Silicon Graphics recognizes that IT skills are very important for his company but that mind-set matters most. He looks for people who can work autonomously and with informal processes, people that are gutsy and empowered, self-starters and those that aren’t afraid to break the rules.
Carbonara has determined four rules for smart hiring based on his interviews and research of these companies.
First of all, don’t hire someone because they have great experience or a big skill set if their personality doesn’t jibe with your culture. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can socialize them into your corporate culture or mind-set.
Secondly, you can’t go into an interview blind. You must first define what it is that you’re looking for in terms of characteristics. Then you have to develop the interview questions that will reveal whether or not a potential hire may have these characteristics. You need to look for specific actions and behaviors in the applicant’s experiences in order to determine this rather than trying to psychoanalyze people, hiring expert Bill Byham tells Carbonara.
The steel company Nucor hires people by watching them in action: Nucor hires steelworkers from the pool of construction workers that build their plants. They watch all kinds of workers to determine who has the work habits that make the best fit for their company: innovative and risk-taking individuals.
BMW tries to view workers in action through simulations. It uses a simulated assembly line to determine if potential hires have the mental stamina for the job. The airplane manufacturer Cessna Independence uses role play situations.
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