Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Other Hand

Exploring two sides of hiring new employees
Perfect candidates aren’t a dime a dozen and neither are perfect jobs, so it’s important to be introspective about your own office environment to be able to identify the qualifications in a candidate that will the best fit for your team.

 

When hiring new employees, it can be hard to find someone who fits the bill perfectly. Often, perfect candidates don’t come cheap, and you may have to compromise on your employee skill “wish-list.” Because of this dilemma, we will be examining some of the pros and cons of hiring the imperfect, albeit well-suited, candidate to help you prioritize the skills and qualities that will be best for your office.

Culture

Some companies, Zappos.com and Google being the most notable, deem the culture of the office as integral to the workplace and during the hiring process value finding an employee that can fit into that culture over possessing a specific skill. Because their employees work very closely together, their corporate structure relies heavily on collaboration and group innovation. These companies do have the capital to invest in the perfect employee, however, so they will invariably attract the best and brightest.

How can you, as a company or office, decide if culture is such a high priority to you that you would be willing to pick a less-qualified candidate to guarantee a better work environment? Below are some sure-fire ways to determine if culture is already integral to your company.

• You work closely together on projects

• You allow all employees to be customer facing, and require that they have enough people skills to troubleshoot

• Your employees wear many hats, often changing roles from day to day to meet company needs

• You trust your employees to do a good job, even if you’re not overseeing their projects

• Your employees often find common ground amongst each other that doesn’t involve discussing work projects or problems

These qualities, although divergent from a strict work environment, help contribute to both the happiness of the employee and their longevity at your company. Your recognition that happy, trusted and challenged employees are long-lasting employees likely means that culture is an enormous driver for your hiring methods.

If this is the case, how can you hire employees in the future that will fit in culturally with your office? There are a couple important factors to remember when reviewing résumés, interviewing and finally making a decision.

• Discrimination is illegal, so certain questions, although important to your culture, cannot be asked. These can be state-by-state, so make sure to have intimate knowledge of your local laws concerning hiring.

• Consider making your interview style either group or conversational. It can be intimidating for an interviewee to discuss his skills with a group of people, but if he rises to the occasion, he may be right for you. Conversational interviews will also help your prospects relax, and you can get a better feel for their personalities when they go off script.

• When looking at résumés, candidates who list other hobbies or interests are likely trying to appeal to you from a culture angle. They have probably researched your company and enjoy finding common ground with others.

• Candidates that are attractive based on their ability to fit in with your company should also be skilled. However, if your office environment is important, a candidate that can learn is also an asset.

Hiring a candidate based on culture doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on skill. However, you may find that the culture of your company will ultimately help you run more smoothly and efficiently and cut down on interoffice drama. If you do find yourself valuing culture as an absolute, look for candidates with skill sets that are almost fits or that have many overlapping skills, versus ones whose skill sets are identical to your job description.

Skill

Some companies have a much more rigid corporate structure. Although a cohesive culture may not be as important to them, they still employ some of the best and the brightest. Their employees likely prefer this setting, and are happy with their positions. These companies have a tendency to work with a structural hierarchy, in which everybody has a job and fulfills their job description.

Setting a candidate’s skills as the highest priority when you interview for a position does not mean that the candidate can’t have common ground with others in your office. It does mean that you recognize his tangible qualifications as being the most important asset to the hiring process.

Below are some ways to determine if you should be searching for a candidate based only upon skill.

• If your office is divided in to cubes and cells, where each employee has their own personal space for maximum focus.

• Only certain employees can be customer facing, and all inquiries and questions must be handled by the correct department.

• Work roles are rock solid, and “that’s not in my job description” can be heard from time to time.

• You have employees to make sure other employees are doing their jobs satisfactorily.

• Work and work-related things are the only conversational topics preferred at the office.

These qualities are descriptive of a more traditional work environment in which many people flourish. However, not everyone can survive in this type of structured setting. This is why, when interviewing, it’s important to look out for a few indicative characteristics that can help illustrate that your candidate is skills-driven.

• The candidate’s résumé is crisp, clean and devoid of extracurriculars.

• The candidate will likely be best interviewed in a one-on-one setting, where he can approach questions in a professional and timely fashion.

• You may find the candidate to be well versed in a variety of attractive qualities, but will try to stay focused on the position at hand when interviewing.

• You feel that it wouldn’t be necessary to worry about the candidate’s skill in regard to their daily tasks, because he has brought examples or case studies.

If you find that perfect skill set, but aren’t sure if your candidate will fit in, make sure that it’s necessary that they do. If your company values skill over culture to begin with, you may not need to worry. A highly skilled candidate, that doesn’t express a desire to mingle, will likely still be a good hire. Just make sure you share your expectations for the office environment with your candidates.

Needless to say, if you can find a candidate that has both the perfect personality for your team and a laundry list of desirable skills, it isn’t necessary to prioritize his qualifications. However, perfect candidates aren’t a dime a dozen and neither are perfect jobs, so it’s important to be introspective about your own office environment to be able to identify the qualifications in a candidate that will the best fit for your team.