First Impressions. I wrote in my book "Make It Happen!" that first impressions can make or break. And it is just about always the case that first impressions are very likely indicative of future performance. In a former role, I posted a position and decided to conduct phone screens prior to scheduling formal interviews to shorten the "short-list" of candidates. If you are in sales, business development, consulting or any other relationship development role, you will know that verbal communication skills are absolutely critical to success. I called one individual and before I could even say hello, he was rattling off his list of wins and successes. I asked him what he was interested in doing and found that he had not done his homework on the role (he knew nothing about the role), knew very little about challenges facing the organization, and then proceeded to try to get my commitment to interview him before hanging up the phone. Love the assertiveness, aggressiveness, successes in former roles, etc but the pushiness would never work with my customers. And quite frankly, was not necessary on an initial introductory call.
I would never be comfortable putting this type of individual in front of a customer. Relationship-builders are very different than the "deal" guy. My theory is relationship first - the deal will follow. People buy people. A product can come and go. Sizzle fizzles. Also, one's team reflects the brand and your personal brand is also dependent on your team's behavior and approach.
Every step in the interview process is a point of decision. I have found that it is important to have a framework by which I think about a potential new team member. Here are several characteristics to think about when looking for the future organizational leader.
Part 2: Evaluationa
Character - Is this individual trustworthy? Will this person operate with integrity, honesty and candor regardless of the situation?
Competence - Does this individual have the knowledge, skills and experience to do the job? Does their background enable them to hit the ground running even with a standard new-role learning curve?
Stretch - Does this individual have the ability to do more - to move into other roles in the organization in the future? What would be the potential next step for this individual? Will the role expand the knowledge and capacity of the individual?
Chemistry - How will this individual "fit" with others on the team? Will he challenge existing processes in a constructive manner? Will she ask questions that lean toward moving the organization forward? How will we operate together - as a team?
Culture - Does this person add to the culture of the organization - bring newfound momentum and energy to the team? Will this person be a catalyst for positive momentum?
Communication - Is the individual clear and succinct in communication? Does the individual talk in circles or "over-talk" vs. answering the question? Would I feel comfortable placing this person in front of a customer? Communication is the glue that keeps an organization running, growing and evolving. And is often a key foundation element to a winning partnership.
Creativity - While many roles would on the outside not require creativity, every role has some aspect that could benefit from it. Would this individual bring new ideas, new process thinking, new engagement concepts, new relationships to the team or organization that did not exist in the past? What "new" would this individual bring to the role and/or the team?