Tips for making excellent hiring decisions

I have often been asked the question, “Given a choice, would you choose the best quality systems in the world or the best people in the world to manage critical quality operations?”  To me, though it is very important to have good quality systems, my choice would be having the very best people.  Even the best quality systems cannot prevent poor judgment, drive for continuous improvement, and ensure that we will work collaboratively with others.  So, how do you choose (or, manage for top performance) those very best employees?  Today, I would like to offer a few tips that I have used for employee selection:

  1. Ability to manage under stress – First of all, the very best employees will have demonstrated an ability to manage not only the routine issues that come before us, but have demonstrated the ability to keep their cool and manage well through a crisis.  It is nearly impossible to know how someone will react in a crisis unless they have gone through one.  A prospective employee that has experienced a crisis in work and walked away with learnings from that experience brings a lot to the table.
  2. Evidence on how the candidate would treat others – To gauge how the prospective employee might treat others, I often ask myself, “Would I want to work for this individual?  Would I want my wife, or son, or daughter to work for this person?”  When you honestly ask this question, you can often quickly make a selection decision.
  3. Ability to add value – I also like to answer this question, “If every employee was exactly like this person, what kind of company would we have?”  In short, you should assess the potential value the individual could add to the company and your team.  When your answer is something other than “terrific”, you might consider whether this is the right individual.
  4. How they represent my values – When I hire an individual, they will be representing not only our company, but me personally.  Thus, I want individuals I hire to represent the values I have, the approach to quality/leadership that I have, and be an individual that you feel certain will act professionally in every situation.
  5. Ambition and energy – The very best employees will also have a drive to improve, exceed expectations, and learn much more than the specific job might offer.  Ambition is an important indicator of future success.  Certainly, this ambition cannot be solely individual ambition.  The ambition I seek is the kind that seeks the very best, is not satisfied with a so-so result, and is excited about achieving something new and excellent.  If you don’t see this during an interview, you probably won’t see it on the job.
  6. Ability to work well with others – Finally, I want to hire individuals that are personable.  Because working with others is so important to quality organizations, individuals in our groups must care for others and honestly want to develop relationships.  These individuals also seek to add value to the lives of others.  Look for these characteristics.

All of us struggle to make those perfect hiring decisions and occasionally fail to hit a home run.  However, by applying these six elements to your search for both internal and external candidates, your chances of make a great decision are much better.

Have a truly quality day.  And, don’t forget to let someone know how you feel about them.  Tell someone that you appreciate them and what they do.

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