The one question to ask when hiring

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”
- Warren E. Buffett -

Jenny and I are eating our favorite chocolate cake. We are celebrating her amazing business growth. Today we mark another indication for her success. Today, Jenny is looking to hire her first employee. If operated correctly, it’s a great time in a small business owner’s life, the time in which you realize you need help in order to continue your business growth. It’s the time to hire your first employee for your company.

Jenny came with a pile of resumes, they all look the same, they are all filled with credentials, and extra activities. All the people behind the resumes appear to be intelligent, and possess high energy and enthusiasm.

Jenny asks me “which one should I pick, how do I know I am hiring the right person? How can I tell if a person fits my business not just by her skills and by her values? How do I know if they share the same vision?”. She continues and says “maybe I’ll just ask them what are their skills, values and vision?”.

I was thinking “how can we really tell if we are hiring the right person?”.

I told Jenny “Skills can be evaluated easily. You can create a list of questions which will measure the person’s skills. You can add some real life business scenarios and check to see how the candidate thinks she will handle these situations. These questions will measure the skills, intelligence and you can even get a hint on the person’s energy”.

Jenny writes it down and asks me again “But how do you measure values and vision? How will I know if I am hiring the right person, the one who fits my business?”.

I smile and say “In this case there is only one question you need to ask”.

Jenny jump up and say “tell me, tell me, tell me Liz” – she is so funny when she behaves like we are ten years old again, just two girls with their dolls, playing make belief games.

I smile at her, and say “the question you need to ask is – How will you describe and help my business achieve its vision?” or “why does my business exist and what will it leave behind when it is all well and done?”.

I continue and say “It is a very interesting question, you will find out a lot about the candidate, do they have the passion you have for your business vision, do they even understand what your business is all about. You will find out what their values are and how they interconnect with your business? Surprisingly enough, you may also learn a lot about yourself and your business. Is your business vision clear enough? Do people understand what you stand for? Do they understand what your business message to the world is?”.

Jenny writes it all down and say quietly “so simple, how will you describe and help my business achieve its vision?”. She looks up, takes another bite of the cake, smiles and says “I have a few phone calls to make Liz, time to find my first employee!”.

What is your favorite question to ask when hiring an employee?


About the Author: Liz

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