Who You Hire Will Determine Whether You Get Hired

As a senior executive, when you look for your next job, you will be judged by the hires you made at your last job. Here are six key factors to keep in mind.


News Flash #1: As the recession recedes, companies will start hiring more employees.

News Flash #2: The people you choose to hire will be the single most important factor in your ability to get hired yourself.

Of all the things you will do at work in the next six months, hiring the right people will be the most important. As a senior executive, when you look for your next job, you will be judged by the hires you made at your last job. Here are six key factors to keep in mind:

1. You are hiring behaviors

Values are beliefs that drive behaviors. When you hire someone, you are hiring his behaviors. People really don’t change as much as we think they are going to. The way a person has consistently acted over the past five years is going to be how she will consistently act over the next five years. Are the person’s behaviors what you want in your business?

If you think that values and behaviors are just fluff, then let me put it this way. Imagine you are not allowed to fire this new hire for at least three years. Now imagine that everyone knows you hired the person. Consequently, every person who interacts with your new hire is going to see this person’s behavior as representative of you. Are you comfortable having this person you are about to hire represent you to everyone in your company, to every supplier, every customer and every potential new employer? Are the values this person demonstrates in alignment with the values you believe in?

Regardless how technically strong or experienced this person is, if you are not OK having him represent you to other people, I suggest you don’t hire the person. Right now there are an incredible number of talented people looking for good jobs.

2. Technical skill does matter

Sometimes managers get so caught up in hiring the “right kind of people,” they forget the person has to do a job once he is hired. Know which technical skills are most important for each role in your organization. Then develop interview questions, case studies and role plays to help determine if the individual has the knowledge and skill to handle the technical aspects of the job.

You only get to hire so many people. Each new hire is critically important for the short term and long term of both your business and your career. Make sure the person you’re hiring can actually do the job you are hiring her to do.

3. Complementary team player

Look at your current team members. Is this new hire going to add some complementary strength to your team, or will he be a repeat of what you already have? If you have a team of good listeners who are great at covering the details but uncomfortable bringing in new business projects, do you really need one more person just like that? Why not search for someone who is different from what you already have? If everyone is extroverted, would your group benefit from someone who is really willing to listen to a variety of opinions and then respond in a thoughtful and logical manner?

Think through not just what the individual brings to your team, but also consider the ramifications of adding this particular set of strengths and passions to the group as it stands right now. You might want someone who is just like the other members of the group. Maybe you want every team member to be a hard-changing, outgoing salesperson. Perhaps you have decided that bringing in someone who is dramatically different from the members of your team would be a catastrophic move. On the other hand, you might feel diversity is of value in building the business in a sustainable manner. You have to make the call.

4. Do a “passion audit”

Behaving the right way and having the ability to do the job will increase the chances that the person will do at least an OK job. Of course, doing just an “OK job” is not going to help your business achieve great results in the future or help you impress a manager on your next job interview. You need people who are both competent and passionate about the roles into which you are going to put them.

A time-honored interview question is, “What are you good at doing?” One of my favorites is, “What are you passionate about doing?” One of my clients asks that question of every potential new hire. If the person is not passionate about anything, then my client questions whether the person will bring real passion to working for his company.

Ask the person, “Why us? Why do you want to work here? What is it about our company that you like?” You will see very quickly if the person has any real passion for your organization and/or the role for which she is being considered. Without passion, what are the odds of the person delivering the kind of performance that will make you look good? My hunch is that the odds are very, very low.

5. Avoid easy hires just because they are easy

There is a temptation coming out of a very tough economic period to help friends and family members. Indeed, those are the individuals who may have helped you get through this recession. However, just because you know them well doesn’t mean they are necessarily the best individuals to hire. They may have passion to have a job, but they may not have passion or competency for the job you need to fill right now.

6. Be patient in your talent search

Just because you suddenly have money to go out and hire some new talent doesn’t mean you have to go do it. Take your time and hire the right person for the job. Never forget: That hire could dramatically affect the future success or failure of your career. The next hire you make may determine whether you are hired.