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Hiring Success: Deep Dive on Interviewing Techniques on the Vibrant Culture Podcast

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

One of the key factors that determine a company's success is its workforce. The right employees can make a significant difference to the overall productivity and growth of a business. I believe that there are three critical traits that every employee should possess: intelligence, work ethic, and submission to authority. In my interview with Nicole Green on the Vibrant Coaching Podcast, we dug in deep to test if all three can be tested in an interview and to clarify what “submission to authority” really means. Hint: it is not the appeasing of tyrannical bosses – it relates to a greater authority than even the CEO!

I. Interviewing for Intelligence: problem solving, prioritizing, and practical sense

Intelligence is a crucial trait for employees. It refers to an individual's ability to learn, solve problems, think critically, and make informed decisions. Hiring employees that can solve problems sensibly in their area of responsibility is critical to company success. First, it means that the hired individual will be able to make sensible decisions to solve problems in their area of work. Second, it means that the manager in that team will not need to look over their shoulder and micro-manage - leaving them more time for planning, coaching, and solving larger issues.

Intelligence is not all about grades and accolades either – a resume often fails to show whether a person possesses the practical intelligence to prioritize well and not get stuck in decision making. Prioritization, the ability to manage information effectively, and data analysis are vital skills that demonstrate intelligence.

One way we interview for intelligence at Micro-Ant is by giving the interviewee a tour of our facilities and afterwards asking questions that show us how well they connected the dots and processed what they saw.

II. Interviewing for Work Ethic: drive and industriousness

Work Ethic is another crucial trait that can contribute significantly to a company's productivity. It refers to an individual's commitment to rigorous work and the diligence required to accomplish their work well. Employees with strong work ethic pitch in with other teammates when needed, pay attention to deadlines and how their work affects others, work efficiently and with attention to quality, and can handle pressure. Such employees are self-driven, highly motivated, and are willing to put in extra effort to exceed expectations. If an individual has both a work ethic and a positive attitude, they are likely to rub off well on other employees – resulting in better teamwork and higher level of engagement among a team or even a department. Its critical to have a few of these people in every team to keep the morale and energy high.

III. Interviewing for Submission to Authority: working towards the mission and through the values of the company.

Stephen King wrote that “Writers are often the worst judges of what they have written.” And I’ve certainly discovered that when I wrote about submission to authority in Lessons My Brothers Taught Me, my meaning was perfectly clear to me but not always to others. I was happy to discuss my meaning further with Nicole.

Many people view authority as an individual or individuals within a company, for example the CEO, the founder, or the president. Or the specific person managing them. But authority is also the prime directive of the company to succeed. It is also the code of ethics, the quality standards, and the values of the company. Just like there is the president and there is also the law. And Ideally those who represent the law represent it well. But Sometimes they do not because they confuse themselves with the authority. So it is in a company.

An excellent team is one where everybody is on board with what the company is trying to execute and contributes to its success.

Submission to authority refers to an individual's ability to follow the goals, ethics, and procedures set out by the company and the management.

It may not necessarily translate to being a team player, but more about the ability to work within a company's culture, established protocol and chain of command.

I believe it is important to evaluate this ability to in employees. I want to have a team who is willing to embrace the company's codes of conduct and ethics, adhere to established processes and workflow plans. Such employees do not act impulsively or deviate from agreed-upon objectives without notice but work to contribute to the overall success of the company.

You might ask, but what about free thinkers? What about innovators? This is the complexity of this particular trait: you don’t want people to follow rules blindly, but you also don’t want people who undermine and act subversively. When hiring your management and leadership you will want to find people who are creative and free thinkers but who also respect the organizational design and the needs of the company. You want leaders who think critically and give feedback to other leaders and executives, but who do this respectfully and who are willing to follow others when the final decision is made.

Listen to the Full Discussion on the Vibrant Coaching Podcast

"IF you have a plan that is well explained, such as others know what is exactly expected of them, then that's waht you can expect of them." Charles McCarrick on Episode 127 of Build a Vibrant Culture Podcast

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