Do you want to start hiring better collaborators? Collaboration is one of the top 3 in-demand soft skills for candidates in 2016. And it's no wonder - collaboration is a major key to increasing productivity and business success. Because collaborators come from all kinds of different backgrounds, it's often difficult to know if you're selecting the candidate with the right traits.
With this quick guide, we'll help you identify the type of collaborator you're looking for. Then we'll arm you with the questions you need to help find out whether the person you're interviewing has a collaboration mindset.
Step 1. Know what you're looking for.
It's hard to find what you want if you don't know what to look for. If you're just starting this process, a helpful thought exercise is to name the 3 most important personality traits you're looking for in a new hire. At Samepage, we're looking for someone who is customer-focused, diplomatic, and communicative. Chances are the top 3 traits will be something different based on your team's dynamic.
It's not enough to just say a person needs to be a collaborator. It's important to understand what collaboration means in the context of your business. Ask yourself why this person needs to be a great collaborator. Are you a creative firm that works with other companies? You need someone who can collaborate well with clients. Is this position internal? You need an individual capable of building working relationships across departments.
Knowing what type of collaborator you're looking for will make selecting candidates for interviews a lot simpler. Look for candidates that have the collaboration skills they will need to be successful in your business.
Maybe you're still not sure where to start? Take a look at one of our most popular guides: 10 Qualities of a Great Collaborator. Chances are you'll want these qualities in your next hire.
Step 2. Ask the right questions.
It's hard to tell how a person works from just one or two interviews so you need to give them every opportunity to engage with you at length. One the of best ways to get candidates to speak freely is to ask open questions. This way the candidate has the opportunity share stories and past experiences. These stories give you a peek inside the candidate's head.
Here are four questions you can start asking in your interviews to identify natural collaborators:
Do you see yourself more as a leader or follower?
You want to hear someone who is capable of participating in teams where they follow as well as teams where they lead. Red flags - someone that always leads or follows. You need each candidate to take a leadership role from time to time, and you also need each candidate to take up a team cause he/she may not believe in.
Tell us about a time when a group project was successful. And tell us about a time you worked with a group and failed.
You want to hear answers referencing "we" more than "I". You want to hear that they share both the successes and the failures with the team. Red flags - a lot of discussion about personal contributions with little to no mention of team contributions. And another red flag is externalizing failure by blaming the group members for failure.
It comes to your attention that a coworker or manager is struggling with a project you're not currently working on. What do you do? Have you experienced this in a previous position? What did you do, and what would you have done differently?
You also want to hear about contributions outside of their scope of influence. A true team player is willing to help others succeed even if they're not directly responsible or impacted by that individual's success. In this question a candidate can answer the hypothetical or provide an example of a time they truly went above and beyond to help someone on the team.
Bonus interview tip: Choose a neutral interview location. Try for a coffee shop, or other informal setting like a lounge in your office rather than a conference room. If you interview candidates in your office, they're more likely to tell you what you want to hear rather than what they really think.
Step 3. Be Consistent
If you haven't standardized your interview questions, start now. Structured interviews are better at predicting job success than unstructured interviews. As you hear more and more answers to the same questions, you'll be able to tell the standout answers from the mediocre answers. Try to pay attention not only to the way the answers are presented, but also the subtext - the situations this candidate has been through and how the candidate has grown from those experiences. Maybe the candidate might not have had the best sounding answer, but he/she may have experience with situations your company deals with frequently. That direct experience is probably more valuable than a well worded answer from an applicant that doesn't have as relevant experience.
Once you've tried these questions, I hope you try your own variations. Or maybe you already have your own favorite methods? What questions do you like to ask prospective hires? What are some ways you try to find out if someone is a natural collaborator? Let me know on twitter @_elvis_, @samepageio and via email firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're looking to boost your team's productivity with an online collaboration tool, sign up for a free Samepage account.