How can you tell if someone is a ‘good hire’?

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Dr Amantha Imber, an innovation psychologist, best-selling author, and founder of innovation consultancy, Inventium, has helped many businesses innovate more successfully. She works with the likes of Google, Virgin Airlines and Commonwealth Bank. Here, she shares with Business Builders her personal interviewing processes to help you always get the best hire.

According to Dr Amantha, there is a common belief in most workplaces that interviews – mainly “unstructured” ones – are a fantastic way to get a better understanding of who a job candidate is, but Dr Amantha and her team believe it to be otherwise.

Q. How can you tell if someone is a ‘good hire’?
The key things to look out for are values, fit and culture fit. While skills can be taught, if the values and culture fit is not there, it’s a tough one to change.

Q. What is the ideal length of time and structure for a job interview?
Companies need to hire slow and fire fast. An effective recruitment process needs to run over a few weeks or even a few months to really get to know the candidate. There is a trend towards incorporating “job auditions” into recruitment processes to get a more accurate sense of the candidate, as opposed to relying too heavily on standard interviews, where it is easy for candidates to misrepresent themselves.

Q. If you are working in a casual environment, how does the process differ?
You need to set these expectations during the recruitment process. If you don’t set expectations accurately during this process, then you are bound to encounter issues down the track.

Q. Is it true you can tell everything in the first five minutes of meeting someone?
Absolutely not. We have a bias to liking people who are similar to us; however, this is not necessarily what is going to be best for the role you are recruiting for. As much as possible, refrain from making first impressions, and let your impression be built up over time with multiple data points.

Q. Is it a good idea to do a pre-interview with candidates?
It is critical to let candidates know what is to be expected in the role. Whether this happens prior to an interview, or during an interview doesn’t matter – just so long as it happens.

Q. What are the three questions you should always ask a candidate?

Question 1: What has attracted you to this role/company? If a candidate can’t answer this question and hasn’t considered why your organisation is where they want to work (or at least one of several options), then it’s probably not going to be a great fit.

Question 2: Ask questions around values and fit. For example, if collaboration were a value, I’d want to ask questions about situations where they have worked in a team and what resulted from the teamwork.

Question 3: Why are you leaving your current role? The motivation for candidates moving on from their current role, or being pushed out of their current role, can be very telling and present you with important information to consider.

Q. What can candidates do to rule them out of the process?
Aside from obvious things, such as being rude, aggressive, or disrespectful, it’s hard to give a blanket rule. I do have a pet peeve around lateness, unless there is a reasonable explanation. If a candidate can’t organise himself or herself well enough to arrive on time to a job interview, how can I rely on them to turn up on time to meetings and engagements with clients?

Q. What should you do and not do when you are interviewing someone?
Don’t let first impressions take over. If you do this, you leave yourself wide open to Confirmation Bias, where you simply look for information that supports your point of view – whether that is a positive or negative one.

Q. What is the secret to getting good contractors/project based staff?
Think broadly about what this might look like. Organisations tend to default to people within the same city, but going to places such as upwork.com and freelancer.com opens up the pool of potential contractors dramatically.

Q. What should you look for in a new staff member to ensure they are a keeper?
I look for values and culture fit above all else. I also looking for how quickly they can learn and what their general attitude is because I feel that the sky is the limit for people with a positive attitude and who are fast learners.

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Dr Amantha Imber
Dr Imber is an innovation psychologist and a best-selling author. She works with the likes of Google, Virgin Airlines and CommBank, and has changed Inventium's own internal interviewing processes as a result of what she has found.

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