Top 5 things to look for when hiring

If you want to be reminded how important hiring is for teams and organizations, think about the costs of bad selection. Beyond the direct costs associated with those poor matches, there are losses of time, effort, productivity, and training. There are also potential hits to culture, trust, and morale. Any such “horror stories” should remind us how important it is to get hiring right.

What are the factors that will most help us to do so?


Everyone brings a perspective to their work. It is related to how they think, what they believe, what they have experienced and how they see the world. This includes whether they see (and focus on) opportunities or problems and whether they choose to be accountable for themselves and their results. While accountability is universally helpful, don’t look for more people who have the same perspective as your top performers. Rather, search for those who can help the team see things in new ways by offering a fresh viewpoint.

Cultural fit

Finding people who fit your culture is important—to a point. You aren’t looking for copies, but rather pieces for your puzzle that also provide diversity. Too little attention to cultural fit might create unneeded or unhealthy tensions tied to vastly different expectations. Too much focus can lead to a cookie-cutter homogeneous team. To strengthen and continue evolving your culture, look for fits, not clones.

Relationship aptitudes

Work is done with others. Look for people who realize and value that their job is more than their personal contribution. When people see it that way, they will prioritize building strong working relationships. If you look at your “bad hires,” you’ll likely be able to draw parallels between the strength of their workplace relationships and the quality of their work.

Interview Bootcamp D


The world is uncertain and changing. You need people who understand the need to change and are willing to make it happen. When hiring, look for the skill and willingness to adapt to a shifting world of work.


Too often, people hire the person they see in front of them, which is understandable because the present is more measurable. We can look at their accomplishments to date and check boxes. Determining potential is less scientific but is critical to the long-term success of your new team members.

Potential lies in all of us, but we are looking for people who want to activate and nurture it. What are people’s goals, what brings them meaning and how interested in and excited about their work are they? Look for the intangibles of a gleam in the eye, a passion for work and a yearning to grow and improve. With a good leader and coach, potential can be nurtured once people have been selected. But people who already see and want to reach their potential will be more effective and successful today and tomorrow.

This list of hiring criteria could be longer, but notice what is missing. Education, job skills and experience are not listed. It doesn’t mean those don’t matter, but their omission was purposeful. If we lean into those items too hard, ignoring the other factors above, we may miss the intangibles that define the most successful team members.