The 10 Things That I look For in a Hire

By Steve McKinney

President, McKinney Consulting Inc. 

If you reflect into a mirror at yourself, you probably do not see yourself the way others see you. Not only your appearance, but your actions, body gestures all give distinct clues to who you really are.

It is a fact that a singer hears herself differently than the audience hears her. The singer, when performing hears herself through her inner ear, which sounds differently to her than to the audience which hears her through their outer ears. So, perception is truly different from reality.

Reality or the Truth is we really do not know what is going on in someone’s brain. We do not hear them the way they hear themselves. What really motivates them or depresses them? We just don’t know. Our normal could be different from their normal. What we hear and what they hear is probably different.

How many of us really know ourselves, let alone someone else? How do we fit? Do we belong? David Thoreau once wrote. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” So, we all struggle to see how we fit into society and the workplace.

There are many factors that come into play to determine success or effectiveness. Throw yourself or your organization into a new country like South Korea for example, and there are many more factors required. If you think it is difficult in your hometown, state or country to hire staff, finding staff in a foreign country is multiplied many times that. So, we need to be good. we need to be special or have exceptional strengths to hire and compete in the job market.

What sets us apart? Or, what sets one candidate apart from another candidate? There is a large pool of intelligent, experienced leaders ready to take on the new position of the company. There are more candidates at the initial review than positions when we begin a search for that one superman or superwoman.

So, to differentiate comes down to experience and how that experience has affected their behavior. According to Lu Adler, “First impressions based upon emotions, biases, chemistry, personality, and stereotyping cause more hiring mistakes than any other single factor.”

Here are 10 characteristics that I look for in a great hire in addition to the specific specifications that my client may ask of me.

Good-ones. Keepers.

1) Positive Attitude

2) Motivated

3) Flexible

4) Global Mindset

5) Humble

6) Honest

7) Team Oriented

8) Risk Taker

9) Great Communicator

10) Professional Mistake Handling Expertise

Here are 10 characteristics of potential hires that I disregard in the process quickly.

Bad-ones. Rejects.

1) Negative Attitude

2) Or, better than thou type attitude

3) In-flexible

4) More “I” than “We.”

5) Is always right

6) My way or the Highway Attitude

7) Military type Authority

8) Very Controlling

9) Poor Communicator

10) Lack of responsibility — it’s someone else’s mistake

Another reason why the word normal is overused is that most people are unaware of how they really act. Just like the singer, they think of themselves or judge themselves based on what they hear and know about themselves from the inside versus what we see on the outside. We cannot see into their hearts or minds to see them as they see themselves, we are not God. We are left to judge and evaluate based on their actions and behaviors.

So, when making hiring decisions or management placement directions one should evaluate based on what you can see, prove, and observe through the actions and behaviors of the individuals. This is your “hearing” of the candidate. This is your reality of what the candidate is all about, not the song that they may sing. They may sing in perfect harmony the song that they think you want to hear. But you must muffle some of the noise for clarity’s sake. Interpret holistic their abilities and attitudes from all the input that you have received before making the hiring decision. Hear them with knowledge and observation not with just your ears.

Ok, what’s your opinion? Do you have a top 10 list of things that you care about in hiring? Let me know in the comments below!

Steven B. McKinney is the founder & President of McKinney Consulting Inc. (IRC Korea) a partner firm of IRC Global Executive Search Partners (Top 3 Globally) with over 17 years of experience as a consultant in executive search and leadership consulting placing 100’s of executives of multinational companies in Korea and Asia-wide. Mr. McKinney is also the co-founder of the Korea Business Leaders Association (KBLA). He earned the distinction of Certified Master Coach from Behavioral Coaching Institute and a certificate in Leadership Coaching Strategies from Harvard University. Previously he managed global footwear R&D efforts for Adidas International and oversaw manufacturing production and R&D duties for Reebok International in Korea.

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