I’ve been in that process of hiring people recently. Whilst I’m by no means a pro, I like to think I know a little about what I’m doing. Hiring people is such a bizarre process, but I do like to think as the years have gone by I’ve picked up a few key behaviours that impress every time.
Given my current role, I tend to be responsible for the hiring (thankfully no firing yet) of ‘junior’ staff. These roles tend to be grads fresh out of university or executives with a couple of year’s experience looking for a new challenge – and whilst the roles we are interviewing them for might change, there’s three key things that are universally appreciated and signal someone who is just *that* bit more hire-able than the next person…
They’ve done their research
The amount of budding candidates we get through the doors that think we only make adverts hurts my head. Whilst you’d never expect someone fresh out of university to know the nuances of a big full service media agency, a little research never hurt anyone.
I’m always really impressed when someone comes in for an interview and can easily talk about our work, the clients that we look after and the news they’ve read about in the industry press. Ultimately, we’re hiring because we want our teams to be complete, we want to grow the businesses we work for. We are, or so you’d hope, passionate about our workplaces and knowing that you’re inspired/excited/intrigued by that gives you an element of genuineness that a lot of recruitment processes wash away.
It takes a few minutes of prep prior to an interview but goes a long way!
They are not one dimensional
I remember being in high school, learning how to play a viola because my mum said I needed to have ‘things other than school and friends’ in my life. Whilst the viola is firmly back in its case (oh god please don’t ask me to play), she had a point.
Whilst some companies make future employees jump through hoops to get a role there’s something great about meeting someone who has a lot to offer. You don’t need to be able to speak twelve languages and know the flute inside out but having genuine interests and skills makes you more than a degree or a few years experience.
Over the years I’ve met someone who was in a band, someone who had taught themselves to code, someone who was into pottery… Knowing about what makes someone tick really helps you feel if they will fit into your team. Which, if you ask me, is one of the single most important aspects of hiring someone and building a team. I’d much rather have a team of well rounded individuals from all walks of life who work cohesively and challenge each other, than a team full of tension but hey! they all got *x mark* in their degree in advertising!
Are able to think for themselves
I said it before, the recruitment process is weird. We’re trained to craft answers to standard interview questions like:
Where do you see yourself in five years?
What is your biggest weakness?
Why do you want to work here?
This pains me.
Don’t get me wrong, some of those questions are totally valid. In most cases, some of them are are important to ask.
Yet, given I’m focusing on growth, and the future of my industry excites me, I want to know what new recruits think. As new minds, full of ideas, where do they think the industry is going? Do they think the world is going to be taken over by robots? Are brands going to be able to advertise in our dreams? A surprising amount of people churn out the same responses when faced with this question and it usually tells me one of two things:
- X candidate is looking for a job. Any job, and doesn’t care where it is.
- X candidate has limited knowledge of the industry despite the wealth of information out there, and may have unrealistic expectations or an ‘idea’ of what media is.
Both of which make me incredibly nervous when hiring someone. The reason?
If I work for an organisation that helps people develop and flourish, we want to be able to do this with the right people. We want to grow our team with people who have different ideas, are passionate and ambitious.
If the choice we’re faced with is either someone is sat across from you giving a beige answers but has all the credentials, or someone who lacks in experience/skills but can speak with passion and integrity, I know which one I’m going to go with…