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Q: When considering candidates in an interview, what are three qualities you look for, or are “must haves,” in order to hire them? What questions do you ask to get clarity on these qualities?


A: “Hire slow, fire fast.”


This statement is some of the best advice that I have ever received from a mentor. In the past, I have done this well, and I have done this not so well, but every time it remains true.


I should start by saying that I believe a slow hiring process and a fast parting is not merely for the company’s benefit – it is also for the candidate’s benefit. As purpose-driven and principled leaders, we owe it not only to our companies, our teams, and our culture to make good personnel decisions, but we owe it to the candidate as well.


As a leader we should want everyone to thrive – including the ones coming to us to interview. Helping a candidate confirm whether or not the company is the right fit for them is an important responsibility and critical to our legacies as leaders. Engaging a new employee who ultimately is not a fit is a disservice to their career journey and to their life purpose, as well as a disservice to the company, team, clients, and culture.


Putting the potential employee’s purpose, needs, and skills in the forefront makes affirming alignment to the company’s purpose, needs, and skills much easier. This, of course, takes time…


At Riverbend we have no fewer than five phases of the interview process and, at times, the process can take months.  One of our hires took 18-months (true story). But, what is time when it comes to bringing someone into the fold of your precious professional home? Now, I recognize that our timeframe is not standard; I would say 3 months +/- is more reasonable depending on the role for which you are hiring.


Each phase serves different purposes, but each phase contributes to the overall interview journey objective – to discover the answers to some key questions. Will that person thrive here? Will that person be motivated and joy-filled here? Will that person love their teammates? Is this the place that will help that person fulfill their purpose and be their best self?  If the answer to those questions are yes, then your company’s purpose, core values, culture, and skill needs are most assuredly in line with those of the candidate’s, and the hiring decision should be a GO!  (Note: this assumes that your company, and everyone who works there, is aligned to its purpose, core values, culture and skill/ core competency needs and actively living them out!) 


Some critical questions to help you get at those answers revolve around the themes mentioned above:

  • What is their purpose? How did they go about discovering it? How do they see your company helping them fulfill their purpose?
  • What are their core values? How did they form them?  Where do they see alignment with your company’s core values?
  • Why are they wanting to come to your company? Are they running away from something else or running towards you? Why?
  • Always probe and affirm character and work ethic
  • Seek to understand their ideal work environment


Remember that the tortoise wins the race. Remaining deliberate, consistent, and steady throughout the interview process will honor the future of both the candidate and your company.

Author Doreen Linneman

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