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Is this candidate a good fit for my team?

I was recently asked how I know if someone is the right fit for my team. They didn’t ask me about interview techniques, so I don’t want to confuse the two. Before I can truly decide which candidate is right for a position, I first ask myself a few questions. I can tell you that being honest with yourself about the answers to the below questions will help you find the best person for your team in the moment.

Before we get started it is important that I tell you to trust your gut in this process. If you have a bad feeling about someone, do not hire them! Likewise if you have a good feeling with someone, explore with them what a working relationship could look like. Let’s take a look at a few questions I ask myself throughout the interview process: 

1. How important is their level of expertise to the position?

I ask myself this question because there are times in my professional career where I have the bandwidth to take on a more junior professional, someone who is eager to learn more. The project or team may not require another expert. This affords me extra time to help guide the junior professional and shape their career. I can spend time showing them their tasks, setting expectations, and answering their questions.

There are other times where I need loads of support. I need someone to jump in, allow me to quickly set expectations, and have them hit the ground sprinting - This depends on the project, current team dynamic, and what I already have on my plate (both professionally and personally). Distinguishing this piece of information is crucial as you move through the hiring process. 

2. How closely will I be working with the individual (and they with my team)?

If the answer to question #1 is, “I need them to be a Subject Matter Expert. I have absolutely zero time to dedicate to them. I need them to rock their job. They will be a lone ranger (i.e. won’t be working directly with me or others on my team).”, then their personality and ability to positively contribute to your company culture are low priority. I would always encourage you to find a candidate you can connect with on some level, but if there is a low level of interaction then it isn’t completely necessary.

If the answer to question #1 is, “We will be working closely together. Our team is tight knit and I don’t want to damage the culture we have built.”, then you need to be able to stand them. In fact, you need to be able to do more than that, you should probably feel a strong connection to them. I’m not telling you to become BFFs (I would tend to advise against that). Think: Could I travel with them? Do I respect them? Are they knowledgeable in their field? How can they positively contribute to our team? Will I be happy with the way they present themselves in front of a client? 

3. What are my concessions? What are my requirements?

Every job posting has a list of skillsets required to complete the job. I view this as a wishlist. I can’t tell you how many times I have applied to a job where I met 100% of the requirements and, before even meeting me, I received an email stating that I do not meet the qualifications required for the position. I have to assume the hiring manager already found their golden candidate and/or they had an idea in their heads of what perfect was to them - and that wasn’t me ;). 

I’m here to tell you that perfect on paper is not always perfect. That’s why I think it is so important to be honest with yourself in what is truly a requirement in the role for which you are hiring. You may find someone with a personality of gold who only meets half of the requirements - Their desire to learn, coupled with their belief in the product ultimately move you to hire them instead of the subject matter expert who was just looking to change companies to make more money.

I have always believed that interviewing is an art form, a way to design your own team. The questions I am asking you here are obviously not questions that you would ask in an interview, they are questions you need to ask yourself throughout the entire process as you vet candidates. So as you set out on a mission to hire the best person for your team, remember to trust yourself. After all, you are in this role for a reason.

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