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Eight great tips for recruiting the best new member for your team

21 Mar, 2021 PR management, Staff recruitment


Effective teams are the key to the success of every organization. The right teams of professionals give organizations a higher chance of improved efficiency. However, just as you would not underestimate the power of a good team, you should not underestimate the damage that can be caused by an unsuitable team member, especially when COVID-19 has created more difficult working conditions for teams, including the difficulty of monitoring the performance of team members.

Ensuring you find the right team player should be your top priority when hiring staff. A bad egg in your team can ruin its performance. But, how do you find the right person?

Tips on how to find the right person for your team

Let’s look at some good ways you can choose the right addition to your team:

1. Assess your current team members to determine where you are long and short on key skills in your group

Think more broadly about what the team needs, not just replacing a departing team member or a short-sighted need to fill a gap in a particular role. You may find a current team member has the necessary skills and interest for the new job. Then you may seek to recruit someone to replace your current team member who may bring other useful skills to the team.

Don’t make the automatic assumption that someone from a similar industry should get priority. Just because you come from the same industry doesn’t mean you necessarily have the right skillset for the new job. For instance, I remember applying for the position of Corporate Affairs Manager with a company that ran my State’s major airport. I thought my skills in several commercial sectors were a good match for the role, but didn’t succeed with my application because the employer was more interested in finding someone who came specifically from a property management field. What??

Well, all airports have a commercial interest in property development within their boundaries. But it is narrow thinking to look for a recruit just from the same industry, when the more important factors were how well you would develop communication strategy. For instance, the principles of stakeholder and government relations are the same, and so contacts in government can be developed by any skilled corporate affairs manager. And many important aspects of an airport operation aren’t about property. In this case, the employer didn’t even specify that a background in the property development industry was a priority.

Also, don’t over-rely on the formal qualifications of a candidate to assess their suitability. According to McKinsey experts, educational requirements create an unnecessary barrier to in-demand jobs. Many jobs now require a bachelor degree, even though people with experience, but not advanced education are suitable.

2. Decide if candidates’ values are similar to your team’s values

Before you start interviewing, you should first decide the key attributes you are looking for in potential team members. Pay close attention to ones you may take for granted. Core values in team members could be any of these typical values:

  • Dependability
  • Reliability
  • Loyalty
  • Commitment
  • Open-mindedness
  • Consistency
  • Honesty
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation
  • Creativity
  • Good humor
  • Compassion
  • Spirit of adventure
  • Motivation
  • Positivity
  • Optimism
  • Passion
  • Respect
  • Fitness
  • Courage
  • Education
  • Perseverance
  • Patriotism
  • Service to others
  • Environmentalism.

When candidates mention values important to them, dig a bit deeper with follow-up questions to explore how well they have thought this through. For instance, if they nominate “loyalty,” ask them “To whom?” and “Why?” and “How?” Find out if they are just nominating ones that sound good to a potential employer. Asking “Why?” to their successive answers is a good way to find out.

3. Ask open-ended questions

During interviews, ask open-ended questions. These oblige candidates to think carefully because there is no clear answer telegraphed by the questioner. Sample questions could be “What do you enjoy doing the most in your work?” and “How do you handle ethical issues in your work?”

Drill down into specific examples. Job applicants can be skilled in reading the answer you are looking for. One way to counter this is to drill down to specific examples. The more concrete and specific the example you ask about, the less likely it is for them to wiggle or “reframe” the response in a way that can mislead you. This type of reframing takes the form of saying the same concept in different ways.

Asking an open-ended question like “Describe your contribution to your firm’s most successful product launch in the past 12 months” And “What was your role in the launch team?” Then, Outline how you handled your part of the launch – from initial idea, to planning, implementation through to the finish, including measurement of results.”

Ideally the candidate provides specific examples of the attributes you are looking for when you ask open-ended questions. If not, “Tell me about a time when …” is a perfectly good way to look for clues from past behavior. However, make sure you evaluate whether a specific example comes to mind immediately — if the specifics come after several prompts, no matter the quality of the detail, it is likely not something the candidate consistently does or thinks about.

4. Carefully review the candidate’s soft skills and attitude to teamwork

Around 46% of newly-hired employees fail within 18 months, and only 11% of them fail due to deficiencies in technical skills, according to a report by Leadership IQ, which comprised two studies from 2011 and 2020. Most newbies failed due to problems with soft skills. The report revealed that the top 5 reasons why new hires failed were:

  • Coachability (26%): The ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers and others.
  • Emotional Intelligence (23%): The ability to understand and manage their own emotions, and accurately assess others’ emotions.
  • Motivation (17%): Sufficient drive to achieve their full potential and excel in the job.
  • Temperament (15%): Attitude and personality suited to the particular job and work environment.
  • Technical Competence (11%): Functional or technical skills required to do the job.

The candidate who lacks certain hard skills is a cause for concern, but the candidate who lacks soft skills and enthusiasm is a giant red flag.

Therefore, check if each shortlisted candidate is suitable for teamwork. You have to know their prospective ability to interact with other team members. This is important because a global survey in 2018 found that workers who say they are on a team are 2.3 times more likely to be fully engaged on average than those who are not.

You would struggle to motivate a team member to produce enthusiasm, a solid work ethic, and great interpersonal skills if they didn’t already have these character traits. A good attitude can matter a lot more than any skills a candidate may bring to their new job. Skills and knowledge are worthless when they aren’t put to good use in a team.

As the work in professional positions becomes increasingly complex, almost all jobs require a high degree of teamwork. According to a study conducted by Harvard University, 80% of career achievements are determined by soft skills and only 20% by hard skills. Consequently, the ability to properly identify and evaluate soft skills during the recruiting process is increasingly critical.

Research by international management firm McKinsey & Company in 2020, found there is a surging demand for soft skills:

Notice how the number of hours worked using higher cognitive skills along with social and emotional skills (including teamwork) is estimated to increase by around 32% by 2030. Obviously, the amount of time worked using technological skills will jump by then as well – by around 55%, according to McKinsey.

In addition, McKinsey consultants specifically note the top three areas of missing soft skills, as in their above table. HR professionals find that communication is a soft skill missing from many job candidates’ attributes. Let’s hope that applicants seeking jobs requiring professional communication skills are up to the job! Lots of potential for good communicators in the forthcoming “automating world.”

5. Scrutinize each candidate’s background appropriately

Check references carefully, especially recent ones.This part of the hiring process can be very laborious and boring. It will require you to vet each candidate and check for their skills, character and experience with people who know them. You can’t check with their current boss if they are still in paid employment – for obvious reasons! Take into account the extent to which their references are from valid and relevant sources. You can also check how well each candidate has fitted into their previous teams. Go through this vetting process for the shortlisted applicants – say three or four applicants. Remember – if you don’t do this systematically and thoroughly, you may can end up regretting it in the long run.

6. What to look for in a top tier employee

Experienced employer Anthony Boyd believes it is worth working hard to find the best applicants. He recommends accepting applicants who have these 11 traits:

  1. Proactive
  2. Collaborative
  3. Charisma
  4. Flexible
  5. Good communication
  6. Reliable
  7. Dedicated
  8. Competent
  9. Strategic
  10. Problem-solver
  11. Integrity.

Boyd believes the most important ingredient of them all is integrity: “You definitely want someone who is honest and trustworthy. Someone you can trust and not have second thoughts about.”

7. Recruit good writers

A surprising, but logical, recomendation from Jaleh Bisharat, founder and CEO of a natural makeup and organic cosmetics firm, is relevant to all new applicants, especially to recruiting suitable communication professionals. She says:

I’ve found that one of the most interesting predictors of success is being a good writer – even if the job itself doesn’t require much writing. For this reason, I emphasize hiring good writers and encourage team members to prioritize writing skills. Almost every time I’ve broken the “hire good writers” rule, I’ve regretted it.

For the past 25 years, I’ve asked for a writing sample from job candidates. I don’t request they create something new (because I think it’s important that job candidates not have to complete anything resembling “free work”). Any piece of writing is useful, as long as you wrote it entirely yourself.

Why care so much about this?

Because every company benefits from good writing-both internally and externally.

Here are three reasons why being a good writer is important, and why writing is a skill worth focusing on, no matter your job description:

      1. Good writing correlates with crisp thinking. Writing provides excellent insight into the way someone’s mind works. Good writers have well-structured thoughts and an orderly outlook. Who doesn’t want great thinkers on their team?
      2. Clear, persuasive communication is the underpinning of a successful professional. Other skills matter a great deal, of course, but you’ll go further if you can express yourself well in writing. Whether you’re communicating with partners, customers, or coworkers, the way you write influences how people view both you and your company. Clear communication builds confidence and creates more productive relationships.
      3. If you’re a good writer, there will always be work for you to do. And if you’re not a good writer, there will sometimes be more work for your boss to do, because if they care about how you or the company is coming across, they’ll have to fix your written work.

8. Consider using PEO services

To save you a lot of time and effort, using PEO services is an effective way of getting your team’s right person. They will help you go through the stress of scrutiny while they provide you with good results. A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) enters into a joint-employment relationship with you. They provide you with employees and share employee-related liabilities and responsibilities. They also offer you international payroll services, providing you with foreign payroll operations. Global PEOs will help you get the right person for your team at no stress but little cost.

It is essential to have a complete team of professionals for your job. You can find the missing piece for your team yourself by using the right tips or utilize the services of PEOs. Either way, your team’s efficiency should be your priority, so you should always go for the right person.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash: Job applicant prepares for an interview.

About Kim Harrison – author, editor and content curator

Kim Harrison, Founder and Principal of Cutting Edge PR, loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in his books available from cuttingedgepr.com.

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