One of the most difficult things to do when running a business is hiring good quality staff members.
Experience always seems to be the most important piece to hiring a good candidate. That experience generally shows in what is put on a resume and how well a formal interview is conducted with the candidate for employment.
But is that what really shows how well qualified a candidate is once we get past the base level of experience or is there another way to see how well someone will work under deadlines and in culture of your company? Can we get past the people who are good interviewers and put them in a position to where you see their true qualities?
The way I look for people who will make great employees is to put them in a bit of an outside the box scenario. This scenario puts them in a situation where there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer, but the need to think critically about the situation and how to approach it.
This completely takes people out of their element and forces them to work to develop an understanding without prior knowledge of what you are asking and with no right or wrong answer you will get an excellent idea as to what their thought process looks like and how quickly they can adapt and react to a situation.
The most important skill for me when I look for someone to hire is the ability to think critically and someone who is always willing to put in the work without excuses.
If someone can think and work this way I know that I can depend on them to be able to work through any scenario that comes at them. This is important because in the real word these scenarios are always full of new things that you wouldn't have learned in school.
In the boutique Gym industry looking for people in their last year of a science based or kinesiology program at a university gives you a full year to work with them as an intern and to bring them into your culture and what you do.
At the end of the internship you can make a decision as to whether or not it makes sense to offer them full employment.
When I find someone who fits the mold that I am looking for I bring them in to talk about what they can offer and understand how they think. This starts off with questions asking why they want to work with us.
In these questions the typical "I want to help people" response isn't good enough. That response is followed up with "it's great that you want to help people, but what makes you feel that way?"
The other big question I have for people who want to work in the gym is "are you more interested in working out yourself or helping others get better and improve their lives?".
I ask this because I really want them to understand that we don't want people who want to be competitive fitness people. We want professionals who are devoted to helping their people succeed, which sometimes requires that your own athletics gets put on hold
Once we get through this phase it's time to put them on the spot and see how well they perform in scenarios. One I like to use is a scenario where I complain of knee or shoulder pain and they have to analyze what's going on, why it might be happening and tell me how they would fix it with a 6th grade vocabulary.
I'm not looking for an exact and scientific explanation as to how to fix it. I'm more so looking for how well they can act and get on their feet.
The key to hiring good staff is to find them young and in university where you can take your time to mentor them, force them into a critical thinking mentality and dig deep into their why. Once you've done all of this you will have a very good idea as to whether or not it makes sense to bring this person on your staff.
I feel that the actual person and their critical thinking capabilities always trumps a fancy resume and experience. Though if you find both. You've found a unicorn!