September 29, 2020
Hiring 03 February 2020
Hiring with the Heart in Mind
Britta Howlett
hiring, unconventional interviews, character, soft skills,

Interviews, when conducted properly, can really help determine many different aspects of someone’s personality. When the focus is shifted from having an “interview” to having an interaction, people loosen up and display more of themselves. Through interactions, you can find out more about a candidate and what they're really like.

Beyond candidates' technical skills and ability to do the job, you should also consider their personality and social skills as well. Who they are as a person will ultimately affect the culture of the company and your business as a whole.

 Matthew Ross, Co-owner and COO of The Slumber Yard says,

“I think soft skills like attitude and emotional intelligence are more important than actual technical skills when hiring new employees. For my business, I'd rather have someone who fits with our company culture and is more in tune with other people's behavior than someone who does not fully understand emotions and causes problems with co-workers.”

More and more employers are finding that intelligence and skills are just not enough. They want honest employees who work hard. Employers have been doing interviews a little differently really get to know candidates. 

Walt Bettinger, the CEO of Charles Schwab was recently interviewed by Adam Bryant of the New York Times and mentioned that when it comes to hiring, sometimes he likes to invite candidates to breakfast and secretly ask the waiting staff to mess up their order. When asked why he responded with:

 “I do that because I want to see how the person responds. That will help me understand how they deal with adversity. Are they upset, are they frustrated or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that. It’s just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head.”

 Not everyone should go around asking the wait staff to mess up orders, but the concept is something companies should adopt. You might wonder why looking inside of their heart is an important thing to consider. Aside from the obvious, that you want to work with good people, check out why Mark Tercek, President and CEO of the Nature Conservancy hires with the heart in mind. Most companies don’t have the same business model as Nature Conservatory and don’t place a focus on hiring people that are courageous and willing to do good for the world, but there are many reasons why focusing on hiring employees with good character can greatly benefit your business.

Hiring people with intelligence can be important but hiring those with a strong work ethic will bring success to your organization.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when hiring.

1. You can teach skills

Hiring with the heart in mind will help you find those who work hard and have a good heart. There are many roles that need technical skills but for the most part, if you can find someone who is willing to work hard then you can teach them all the skills that they need and you won’t need to worry if they will get the work done or not. 

2. Have time for training

When you do hire someone, be sure to have enough training upfront. Make sure there is a proper onboarding plan. It would be detrimental to find someone who is knowledgeable and who has the skills but is unable to work with the rest of your team or who is not a good fit for your company culture. One thing to keep in mind is to train hires before they even start the job. This way you know how they interact with others and you can see their work ethic. 

3. Don’t take too long to hire someone, but also don’t rush it.

There will never be a perfect hire but there will be many who will be a good fit for your company. If you have a good onboarding plan set you can get an amazing hire to become the perfect fit for your company culture. If it takes you months to find a good fit for a lower position then you might want to look at your hiring process. This is too long for a position to be vacant. 

 “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching” - C.S. Lewis

It’s important to hire people with integrity even if you’re not an industry that requires it like Finance. Having integrity doesn’t always have to be associated with corruption. Integrity can also mean following through with something. It means choosing thoughts and values not based on personal gain. This characteristic is the most important an employee can have because you know that you can count on them to do the work they set out to do and not just follow rules, but adopt regulations, values and other missions that your organization holds dear. 

Billionaire Warren Buffett had a thing or two to say about what to do when it comes to hiring the right people.

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it's true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

Integrity makes it hard for someone to question a person's decisions. Their actions are open for everyone to see. You can also trust that they will use good judgment in their decision making. 

Hiring people with integrity also sets you up for creating leaders. Those with integrity eventually become role models. People look up to them with respect and dignity. These are the type of people you want to one day become managers and supervisors.  

But when interviewing, how do you know if someone has integrity? Here are a few questions you could ask:

  • Tell me about a time when your trustworthiness was questioned. How did you respond/react to that experience?

  • What would you do if you suspected a fellow employee stealing or lying?

  • What do you value most in a team environment?

  • Tell me about an experience you had with an employee who did something inappropriate. How did you deal with it?

  • When was the last time you broke any rules? What was the situation and what did you do to fix the problem?

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -Martin Luther King Jr.

A person who wants to make sure they do their work correctly and thoroughly can be referred to as conscientious. Conscientious people are usually down to earth and always feel they can be doing something better. This is a great character trait to have since we live in a fast-paced, constantly changing society. People that are thorough are less likely to make mistakes and usually prevent mounds of problems from arising. This study suggests that conscientious people are usually the most successful. 

People who are conscientious are aware of how their behavior will affect others and the way they perform. Conscientious people have a desire to do well in their work and go way beyond what is expected of them. They also know that others depend on them which in return makes them work harder and be a better team player.

What to look for in interviews:

Candidates high in conscientiousness have most likely prepared for the interview. They would have carefully researched the organization they are applying for. They have searched for the specific role and thought of questions to ask. Candidates will not feel shy to ask these questions about the organization because they want to know what is expected of them. 

They know what value they can bring to the organization and they know when to stop talking and give you the time to talk to them. Within 24 hours they will also give a note or email thanking you for the opportunity. 

“The mind is like a parachute - it doesn’t work unless it’s open” - Frank Zapa

Openness is an incredibly important character trait to have. Being open to new experiences, to change and to new people can only better your life as well as your working environment. Adopting this trait can lead to much success no matter the circumstance or situation. 

Open people usually work better with others and easily adapt to any situation they need to. They can also be more successful because they are not stuck in their ways. It’s hard to tell if a person is open to new experiences in an interview setting. Open doesn’t necessarily mean someone who loves to talk and tells you their whole life story.

Being open means that you are adaptable to new roles and new changes. But why is this important?

  • Companies face a lot of changes. From mission vision to technology advances, it’s important to be open to any changes that come. Adaptable employees can go with the flow and not let the changes disrupt them from their productivity.

  • Open employees are more willing to take risks. Now, these are not risks that will hurt the company in any way but they will be willing to take on something that no one is excited about. They will not be afraid to make mistakes and when they do they will be eager to find a solution or fix their mistakes. 

What does adaptability look like in candidates?

  • Promotions: Has your candidate listed any promotions on their resume? This might show that they are willing to take on challenges and adapt to big changes.

  • Different jobs and roles: Some might employers might say that having many jobs listed on your resume will show that they are not disciplined employees. However, it might be showing that they have had many changes but that they are flexible, adaptable, and can learn fast. 

  • Education/volunteer opportunities: Candidates who are adaptable and open seek out new opportunities to learn and serve. 

Questions to ask in an interview:

  • How do you adjust to changes you have no control over?

  • Tell me an experience you had when there was a big change in the organization. How did it affect you and what did you do to overcome the change?

  • What are the biggest changes you face when starting a new job?

  • Describe a time when you had to do a new task? How did you adapt to it?

  • Tell me a time when you had to learn how to use a new system. How long did it take you?

When it comes to hiring it's important to find someone who is open and adaptable. They will help your team be more creative and enable your company to change.

Take Away

These traits are critical for employees to have at any organization and the best way to determine if someone has them is to observe them in a natural setting. Always hire with the heart in mind. If you do then you will find someone who makes your employees better and help your company soar.

For more hiring tips, be sure to check out our hiring blueprints!