One of my favorite business books is Good To Great by Jim Collins.
So much that I thought I knew about business was kind of flipped on its head.
One of the things that surprised me was how important it was to hire the right people. Or to have the right people on your team.
Including vendors, contractors and everybody involved.
Here is a quote from Jim:
The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.
That’s pretty big.
Now, the question becomes how you know who the right people are to ride your bus.
We’ll focus on one key aspect…the questions you ask when you’re interviewing people.
1. What are your core life values?
Core values start with discovering what your core values are. And if you have co-founders what their core values are. And where you intersect.
It’s not really something you decide and then do. It’s more built-in to the way you live life. The things that are most important to you and how you live.
Maybe it’s making money.
Maybe it’s being on time.
Maybe it’s being nice.
Maybe it’s being the best.
Maybe it’s creating completely new things.
It could be anything. There are no wrong answers. You have to look back on your life and determine what you care about most. What drives your decision making. Especially the difficult decisions.
You then want to hire people that share those same core values.
Because if you have people that share the same values they will naturally know how to make most decisions. They’ll be driven by the same things that drive you and your business.
2. What are your goals for life?
This seems like an obvious question, but it’s often overlooked. We really don’t even think about it much for our own lives.
This can help with where your business goes from your own perspective. Think about what you want in life. Next year, five years and 50 years down the line.
If you don’t really have a clue your business will kind of go along rudderless.
The same is true for your team. You want to try to figure out what they want in life so you know if your business fits within that picture. If not, it’s not good for them, for you or for their business.
3. What do you like working on even if you’re not being paid?
People do like to work on things. It has to be part of our nature.
Certainly we like being paid even if we like doing something. And this question isn’t meant that you can pay people little to do something.
It’s more about motivation.
People work hardest and with the most effort on the things they would do for free.
For me it’s kind of curiosity. I like looking up information. My former boss discovered this about me and had me work on various research projects. It was enjoyable for me and I probably would have done it even if they didn’t pay me.
In fact, looking back on it those projects were kind of extra projects. I wasn’t really getting paid more salary for doing them…
4. What do you like doing in your free time?
Or you could ask about hobbies.
Hobbies are important to people. So is spending time with friends or family. Or reading. Or watching movies. All kinds of things.
It’s important for people to have time to do what they really love.
Let’s say it’s incredibly important for a worker to be there for their child’s sporting events. But perhaps as a boss you don’t feel sporting events are that important. So you require the person to work occasionally during their child’s events.
You’re going to have a disgruntled employee on your hands.
Everybody values something different in their free time. Try to know what each person values. And try to make sure they have time to do that. Otherwise they’re going to be unhappy and unproductive.
5. What are your career goals?
This one is similar to what a person wants to do in their life. But this one is more about what a person wants to achieve in their career.
Do they want to be a leader or manager?
Do they want to work on innovative projects?
Work for a large company?
For a startup?
You want a person’s career desires to fit with your vision for your company. If there is disconnect you’ll have an unhappy person.
Like if a person wants to be an executive, but your executive team is already pretty set for a few decades. That will lead to potential frustration.
You want your company to have clear paths for your team members based on what they want. And if it doesn’t fit then you don’t want to hire that person.
6. How do you learn?
Working in teams?
Learning is an essential part of most jobs. Your company has its own processes and ways of doing things. You need to know how your team members learn best so you can be as efficient as possible bringing people on board.
And it’s also important to know this so you can foster growth for the people on your team.
7. How well do you work without specific direction?
Autonomy is great for a business. You want to be able to give people a little direction, but then give them the responsibility to figure out how to get their on their own.
You don’t need to micromanage or hover and dictate with rules and things like that.
Some people struggle with this. You might need some folks that just follow specific direction like they’re part of an assembly line, but you also want people that can work with only just a little direction.
And if you hire people that share your values you shouldn’t have to worry too much that they’ll achieve things in ways that you don’t approve of.
8. Are you reliable?
If timeliness is important to you then you want people that can meet a deadline. Surprisingly, not everyone worries about deadlines.
Or maybe deadlines don’t mean much to you, but eventually achieving great results are important. Not everyone has the strength to keep pushing until they succeed.
However you define reliability, you want to make sure your team has the same definition.
Also try to get the person talking about stories and instances when they came through for someone that was relying on them for something.
9. Why do you want this job?
This one is more common. It’s good to know why someone wants or needs a job. It gets back to figuring out what they care about, want for their future and those kinds of things.
Motivation is a big thing.
This question can also help you determine if there is a core value fit.
10. What do you need from me?
This is another fairly common question.
It’s not all about what a person will do for you and your business, but how you can help each team member.
Hiring is so incredibly important. I don’t think I realized how much until I read Good To Great. The evidence is there that having the right people on your team can lead to success no matter what business you’re in.
These questions should help you bring the right people on board. Maybe not 100%, but a pretty good amount. And it will help you understand your own business, which is always good.