Last week, as part of my 5-week review of what to look for when hiring, I wrote about traits. This week, I’ll focus on knowledge & skills.
Successful team members need to show up on Day 1 with a certain level of knowledge (know-what) and skills (know-how). Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean job-specific knowledge and skills. (For many entry-level positions, employers realize if they hire people with the right traits, background and values, they can impart what’s specific to the job.)
Beyond the job-specific, there are two other categories of knowledge and skills that are almost always necessary, even in entry-level positions: interpersonal and self-management.
The interpersonal deals with one’s ability to effectively understand and interact with others. That includes being an active listener and attuned to the needs of others, communicating with the audience and situation in mind, effectively influencing others, and overcoming conflict.
To evaluate interpersonal skills, role-plays can be more effective than simply asking interview questions. It’s one thing for a potential customer service rep to describe how they would handle an upset customer. It’s another altogether for them to role play that situation. A role-play would allow evaluators to assess the candidate’s tone-of-voice, empathy, patience, and so on.
Self-management includes organizing and managing one’s time, activities, and commitments, being aware of and managing one’s emotions, dealing effectively with stress, and maintaining focus when surrounded by distractions.
To evaluate self-management skills, behavioral interviewing can be effective. So can placing a candidate in an environment that mimics the stress, distractions or emotional triggers they are likely to face on the job. And don’t forget to ask them to explain their system for staying organized, how they have modified it over time, and what causes it to break down.
Knowledge and skills are critical to the success of any employee. Not just the knowledge and skills that may first come to mind.
Next week I’ll look at background.