Staffing a team is one of the most important activities a manager can do. The right mix of personalities, traits, backgrounds, and talents will set a team up for success. The wrong mix could ruin the team (maybe).

The correct mix of teammates will require hiring and firing. A rigorous interview process should ensure you only hire “the best”. If you hire the wrong person a quick separation will minimize the impact and allow the team to find the right person.

Unfortunately interviewing is an imprecise instrument. Research shows that we often fall back on our biases when hiring. We look for people like ourselves. Research also shows that interview performance has no bearing on job performance. The sad truth is that a few hours of conversation is no way to judge a candidate.

The most effective interviews are job simulations. Create an exercise that simulates the job to be performed and you’ll have a much better idea of the candidate’s aptitude. Use the real tools of the job if possible. For example, solving an algorithmic problem in a web browser is a bad test. Solving a collaborative problem with future teammates would be a better test.

When interviewing, try to test for traits and values. Almost anyone can learn a new skill. Traits and values are much more difficult to change. This will require you and the team to seriously consider the traits and values you’re looking for in a teammate. Its difficult work, but more introspection now will pay off with better teammates in the future.

Additional Reading