What do you look for in a recruit for an employee position? For me, it should be the same things you expect of your employees.
In this day of politically correct (PC) hiring practices, it is sometimes difficult to find that recruit that is ‘just right’ for employment, but as difficult as it is you should establish some objective criteria for your ‘perfect employee’. Here are four (4) I look for. I will let you put each of these in your own order of importance (if there is such a thing).
We expect an employee to be competent in their role and responsibilities. While credentials and background may tend to illustrate this in their resume, I do not accept such carte blanch. I never bring anyone on board without a ‘trial period’ no matter what their credentials. I expect every new hire to demonstrate competence in the position to which I have assigned them, and if they do not, then it may well be ‘my fault’ for assuming that they could perform in a position for which they truly were not qualified no matter what their resume advised.
We then have a choice, let them go, demote them to a capable position, or train them up to perform the position for which they were hired. Obviously, each firm will have to make the decision that is appropriate to their own circumstances and capabilities, and this article simply can’t begin to advise you as to how to make such a determination.
I’m sorry but I don’t want to hire, and in fact don’t intend to hire, someone who ‘thinks they know it all’, even if they really do. The reality is that we all work in a business where everything is changing, just look at the fact that QuickBooks Online has ‘new features’ every single month. So even the newest software isn’t remaining constant, it is changing probably faster than we are. But when it comes to your new employee, you probably should be looking for someone who can adapt, grow and learn the newest thing even faster than you do. So your perfect employee is someone who ‘will always be learning.’ They will want to keep up with the trends in our industry and ensure that we are using the best processes, procedures and yes tools (including software).
It’s easy to get trapped in the present by the hustle and bustle of being busy with what is due today, and tomorrow (not to mention yesterday), but the perfect employee is always on the lookout for whatever is going to achieve not only ‘present due’ but ‘future due’, and in so doing striving to better themselves and our practices as well.
Confident in Themselves
I am not talking about that ‘guy’ who is so self-confident that they are arrogant, but I am talking about that employee who is confident enough to have ruled out ‘self-doubt’, or even more so, long ago ruled out ‘doubt in you.’ They work under the assumption that they have learned from the masters and that while things are changing the fundamentals ‘never do’. Let’s face it, a “debit is never going to be a credit” and a “credit is never going to be a debit”. The fundamentals of accounting have not changed, even though a few rules about posting and disclosure do from time to time, but even the latest and best technology is just a tool which should simplify the tasks of performing those fundamentals.
While it may not be ‘their place’, at times it can become necessary for a confident employee to even challenge authority. When they recognize that something is wrong they need the confidence to approach a supervisor or even ‘the boss’ in a tactful and appropriate manner to pose that question, “I don’t think this is correct?” If we are not comfortable by such confidence in our employees, then perhaps we are working above our own competence.
Of course an employee of this caliber is destined not to remain ‘an employee’ at all, they are on the rise of becoming a team leader, a supervisor, and potential partner. So the perfect employee is not just today’s employee but the perfect candidate for advancement as well.
That is a term that PC probably says we can’t even use, but to heck with political correctness. Every employee must have passion for their work. They not only need to accept the culture of our business but embrace it. An employee without passion is just ‘a worker’. This is one reason why we do not use the term ‘employee’ in my firm, rather we use the term ‘associate’. If my firm were growing, I might have ‘Jr. Associates’ and ‘Sr. Associates’, like the law firm of a good friend of mine; heck even his own son is a ‘Jr. Associate’ at present (even if he acts as a full blown ‘Partner’ at times).
My point is that an employee’s passion begins with the motivation that convinces him or her that they should be passionate about their position and the firm. Passion is contagious and that passion can and should flow from the top down. If there is a supervisor (no matter what you call them) in your firm that doesn’t have passion, how can you expect their subordinates to have passion?
So how can you judge the passion of a recruit you are interviewing? By the questions they ask and the knowledge they show. When recruits ask questions that are solely focused on themselves (how much will I make, how often are raises given, is insurance 100% paid, etc.) they are only passionate about themselves. On the other hand, if they ask questions about the firm (has the firm been growing, what types of clients the firm specialize in, etc.) it shows a genuine interest in the welfare of the firm and thus a tendency toward passion. When they take the next step and ask about things like firm objectives, and goals and business expansion, they are clearly developing a passionate interest even before being hired. And when they have done their research, and can tell you almost as much about your firm as you yourself know, you can bet they are passionate about becoming your very next ‘associate.’
In my way of thinking, if you have a recruit that meets these four criteria, then you have a keeper. It’s easy to pick the winner out of a group when they are the only one in the group meeting these criteria; but when you have several that fit the bill then that is where the truly ‘objective valuation’ of each of these really becomes your ‘subjective’ gut feeling of which recruit is in fact the best. We should all be so lucky as to get to pick, ‘the best of the best’.