That Gut Feeling

This post was originally published on January 11th, 2016. Click here to view original on LinkedIn.

This short post will be about my own experience in hiring, and how the best people to hire might not be those with the most experience. Instead, hire the people who you feel have the most passion for what they are about to do.

When I first started hiring, I asked my manager if there were any tricks to it. He said the best way to know if someone is right for the position is to feel it in your gut. The feeling of excitement when sitting across from them, he said, and looking into their eyes and getting excited to come in and work with them every day are the most important.

I didn’t understand.

I thought it was all about experience, that if they worked this job or that job they would have the skills necessary to do the job. While the experience level comes into play, that’s usually how the person gets the interview, it has to be about more than experience.

To be honest, it took my awhile to understand. I made some poor hires, my first hire decided a couple hours before a shift that they didn’t want the job. My second hire quit after a month once they found something that offered them an opportunity for more money. Reflecting on it now, the only thing I felt when I interviewed them was “I need to fill the position.”

The first time I really understood what my boss had said, I was sitting across the table from someone who probably didn’t have the best resume, but I decided to give a chance to. I’m not sure why, but I am glad I did. I spent the interview asking them the basics about their strengths and weaknesses, looking for clues into their character to see if they would be the right fit for our team.

Finally, towards the end of the interview I decided to try something. I gave them an overview of what the job was. Instead of telling them the best aspects of the job, I decided to tell them about the worst the job had to offer. The nitty gritty. The working until 230am because there was a rush just before close, the jumping into a garbage bin to push it down so you could fit everything in (and the subsequent garbage juices that would probably stain their pants) and the fact that they would be running around on their feet for 12+ hours and back into work the next day bright and early.

And then it hit me.

I saw it in their eyes. As I talked about the worst possible outcome, the candidate’s eyes twinkled as if I was telling about their dream job. Now, obviously it wasn’t. But their body language told me that those negatives didn’t matter because they were passionate about the great things the job could offer. A chance to learn something new, a chance to make a difference and a chance to work on a pretty successful team. They didn’t want anything else but that job, and I felt it in my gut that I needed to work with them. This person ended up being one of the best people I’ve ever worked with, contributing more than just sales and hospitality. They ended up being indispensable.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. From then on forward, every hire I made needed to give me that feeling and I would tailor the interviews to give the candidate an opportunity to make me feel something. That isn’t to say I didn’t make mistakes, sometimes my gut was wrong. But my frequency of misses drastically declined while my frequency of hits improved.

All because I decided to look for the passion in others and allow it make me feel something.

I'd love to hear of experiences in hiring that you've had that are similar (or dissimilar, for that matter) as mine. Let's start the conversation!