Hiring managers use plenty of clichés to describe the type of employees they’re looking for. “We want real go-getters” and “We want employees who are ready to hit the ground running from day one”—two way to say that they want hard workers who know their stuff. That’s nothing special, though, and when the usual education and experience requirements are added, the result is a recipe for another average employee who could fit in just fine anywhere.
In today’s crowded marketplace, though, a run-of-the-mill team made up of run-of-the-mill employees isn’t going to cut it. To build a truly exceptional team, instead of working from the same wish list as every other company, consider looking for these characteristics in your candidates:
Intellectual curiosity. This isn’t the same as being smart. People with intellectual curiosity want to learn, grow, and evolve. They’re constantly looking for new challenges, answers to their questions, and better ways to get things done. These are the type of employees you want, because they’re the ones who will challenge conventional thinking—and keep your company one step ahead of the competition.
Authenticity. There’s something refreshing about people who forge their own paths. Think of Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, and Bono—all people whose authenticity and unique personalities helped them make impressive contributions to society. Companies need team members who aren’t afraid to be their unique selves, because having them around makes the workplace much more interesting and creative.
Candor. Ask interviewees what they think of your company based on their experience or perception. Many of them won’t answer the question directly — either because they haven’t done enough research to form an opinion (in which case they didn’t prepare enough as they should have) or because they’re trying to be polite (in which case they aren’t being honest).
If they can’t give you the truth at that initial meeting, expect them to less than forthcoming as employees, too. You don’t want to fill your team with nodding sycophants. You want employees with thoughts and opinions of their own who will push your team to improve.
A life. As tempting as it is to hire hyper-dedicated employees who will be the first in and the last out every day, at some point you’ll recognize that there’s only so much they can contribute without seeing the world. Don’t underestimate the value a balanced life brings to the workplace. Without friends, family, hobbies, and travel, employees run the risk of becoming one dimensional, which will limit their long-term growth.
Food knowledge. You’ll be spending a lot of time with these people, and aside from breathing the same air, dining together will be your most common shared experience. Lunch or dinner meetings don’t always have to take place with a greasy slice of pizza or a sandwich in one hand while poring over spreadsheets in the boardroom. Someone with a healthy appreciation for interesting food options will know where to get great good and which spots have good ambiance for brainstorming (and a top-notch wine selection!). Find someone who takes food seriously to ensure you have a team of people who are fun to dine with.
In a workplace full of multiple generations and rapid technological developments, new hires need to be able to grow and adapt to changes without losing their passion and intellectual firepower. Most technical skills can be learned with the right training, so don’t make hiring decisions based on what everyone else is looking for. Work on building a team that’s unique.
Related Article: Hire for culture, train for skill
Copyright © 2016 Mamu Media, LLC All Rights Reserved.
David Saef is the executive vice president of MarketWorks and strategy at GES, a global event marketing company with a long history of connecting people through live events. The company has more than 3,000 passionate employees throughout the world who provide unparalleled service and consistent execution of breakthrough experiences that blend art and science to foster engagement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.