What Do You Look For When You’re Hiring A New Team Member?

Across the fields of business, non-profits, and the church, I’ve been in and around leadership circles for over 20 years now.  In my first experience leading a team, where I was responsible for a team of 20-25 people, hiring, training, and in some cases firing, I learned a lot of lessons – many in what not to do!

In the early 2000’s, I first heard a pastor named Bill Hybels teach on what to look for when you’re hiring a new team member. You can watch a six minute explanation by Bill of what he looks for:

I’ve used that list for nearly 15 years now.  Every time I’m looking for the next member of our team, I look for character, competency, chemistry, culture, and calling.  If one of those is not a good fit, that’s a red flag and we need to slow WAY down and look more closely at it.

I can recall early in my leadership once making in incredibly poor hiring decision. At the time, I thought it was the right call, but it wasn’t even close. The employee was a poor culture fit for our organization, which I could have and should have recognized during the hiring process (which I should have taken MUCH longer with). The employment relationship didn’t even last four months.

I could have said, “Well, this person just didn’t work out. It’s their fault, and I’ll just try again, using the same hiring methodology I used the first time. “ But my goal was to see this as a learning moment, and to do that I had to systematically evaluate what had happened and “own” my contribution to this hiring failure. I evaluated the hiring process with fresh eyes, seeing where I should have paid attention to warning signs and comments during that process and not proceeded with the hire, especially at such a high speed.

I’ve heard it said many times: hire slow, fire fast.  I think there’s great wisdom in that, and I think if you do the first, you won’t have to do the second nearly as often.

What do you look for when you’re hiring a new team member?