Want engaged employees? Hire for curiosity and personality

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 3.28.49 PMAt Project X, the work we do for our clients is challenging, and we don’t sugar coat it. Our team goes above and beyond for our clients, which often involves unexpected hours spent working to tackle a problem on very short notice. Yet when you hear our employees speak, not only do they recognize this dedication is necessary, they are actively excited by their projects and want to do what is necessary to see them succeed.

The simple reason for our team’s enthusiasm is this: we don’t hire for skills, we hire for people. We hire people who are naturally curious and quick learners, and encourage them to guide and take ownership of the projects they’re working on. By hiring for character first and skills second, we find the right people who we know will fit in with our culture and help us come up with exciting new solutions to common problems.

How often has it happened that after reading the resume of what seems like a very skilled candidate, you interview them and recognize that something just didn’t fit? Personality and attitude are a huge part of how we decide who to hire; if we get the sense that a candidate just wants to keep their head down and do work from 9 to 5, we know it’s not a good fit.

When we interview, we tend to ask a lot of hypothetical questions related to creative problem solving, to see if the candidates can think outside the box. We also make sure that the employees who would be working most closely with the candidate are a part of the interview, to make sure that their personality meshes with the team they’d be working with.

According to a survey by Gallup on employee well-being and engagement, employees who are ‘engaged and thriving’ are 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization within 12 months of starting at a new company. To prevent high turnover, we want to ensure we find people are the right fit and are curious enough to continually grow their skills, and learn quickly from all the other team members and engagements they are a part of.

That being said, if we’re going to hire the naturally curious, we know they’re going to get quickly bored if they’re not constantly able to find ways to stretch their skills. When a client engages us for a project, we make our consultants part of the planning process with the client. One of the most important skills we look for in our employees is their communication skills, and everyone involved with a project is encouraged the speak up during the planning process. Often in bringing together people with different perspectives, we manage to hit upon a solution which is easier to implement or more functional than the original client request.

Of course, you can’t expect your employees to be on always either. Part of our employee retention strategy is also making sure that valuable work is recognized, and that after hard engagements we ensure our employees have enough downtime to spend with their families and recuperate their strength.

At the end of the day, if you’re going to hire employees for the long run, make sure you take the time to find staff who are passionate about your company mission, and want to be active contributors to helping your company succeed.

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