Hire for attitude and cultural fit rather than experience or education


Kevin Coker is the co-founder and CEO of Proxima clinical trial and works with the new class of emerging drug, device and diagnostic stars.

Hiring the right team is one of the most vital and complex components of emerging companies, even more so than for established organizations.

Many business leaders struggle during the hiring process: “Does this candidate have the skills and experience the company will need today and as the company grows? What is it about this candidate that can take my business to the next level? Are they a cultural fit? Do they understand our mission? Can they do the job?” These questions and others plague the minds of hiring managers everywhere, and it’s not always easy to tell potentially good employees from bad ones.

Talent isn’t always obvious, and real capabilities aren’t always apparent on a resume or resume. So, if education and experience don’t necessarily equate to great job performance, then what does? How do we identify a candidate’s potential in the hiring process when it coincides with our current business needs?

Rent for attitude.

There’s nothing like a can-do attitude. When a candidate has the desire to be great, the ability to set their ego aside enough to take charge of the leadership, and the drive to delve after hours to get on top of everything he or she currently do not know, they may be unstoppable.

This is gold. As a leader, when you can hire and develop a team so that their potential is great for your company, you, the employee and the company can grow together – and nothing could be better. When your employees feel their own growth and know that they are making an impact, they are often willing to go the extra mile to make your business more successful. Their success is your success.

A growth mindset, rather than a closed mindset, is key. Here are some things to keep in mind as your candidate goes through the application process.

• Does the candidate think he can achieve something, even with limited resources?

• Are they flexible in how they can accomplish a task?

• Are they determined to be successful?

• Can they play “MacGyver” or complain about what they don’t have and use that as an excuse?”

Rent for a cultural fit.

You don’t want a black sheep in your business unless they are strategically placed to shake things up. When hiring a cultural fit, you’ll want to think about the vibe. Given the nature of the position you are looking for, who will and will not fit in?

The business development team will have very different personality types than accounting or finance, but they should all have a passion for what your business does, be able to have conversations together, and enjoy working together. Of course, this is much more important when the team is small and on the rise than when you’re a team of several thousand people, but your culture should stay focused on the feeling you want your company brand to represent.

Rent for potential.

Recruiting for potential resources, you believe the person can learn quickly and scale up to the role they were hired for, rather than coming in with the skills already. One advantage of hiring for potential is that you can hire a younger candidate who is ready for growth, possibly at a more affordable price, while keeping your business grounded. In this scenario, you could then have a candidate who grows with the company rather than one who outgrows the company.

These candidates also tend to develop a problem-solving mindset specific to the needs of your company. To identify potential beyond attitude and cultural fit, start with your gut feeling and compare it to the rest of your team. Let your candidates interview multiple people from multiple departments within your organization. Interdepartmental interviews help keep you culturally fit and can uncover hidden potential or expose red flags you may have missed.

In addition, the more team members involved in the hiring process, the closer your team will be once the candidate becomes an employee. Breaking the ice works best when everyone has been able to meet for the first day.

Ultimately, experience can be learned, and a positive attitude should elevate the candidate. By nurturing your team’s potential, you enable your employees to grow in their new roles and succeed if the company succeeds. Not only does this provide opportunities for individual growth, it empowers your business to grow and evolve with talented people who are just as passionate about the success of your business as you are.

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