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Hiring Accountable & Nice People

This is the final post in our 3-part series about Recognizing and Hiring On It people. Last week we talked about how to screen for qualities like Persistence, Entrepreneurial and Leadership. Today it’s Accountable and Conscientious, plus a few tips on how to motivate and retain your favorite On It team members.


What it Sounds Like:

Accountability is the entrepreneur’s first cousin. On It people take accountability not just for their jobs, but for the success and reputation of their companies. They’re the first to pick up a ringing phone because they care about perception. Their attitude is not “it’s not my problem” or “don’t blame me.” They automatically empathesize and look for ways to help. They are perfectionists and Good Samaritans.

Interview Questions:

1.       Describe a business situation or relationship that didn’t go well. What went wrong and how did you handle the outcome?

2.       Describe something you did recently outside your typical job responsibilities to grow business, cut costs, improve morale, etc. within your company?

3.       Tell me about a time when you made an error in judgment, what happened as a result and how you managed the situation.

4.        When was the last time someone expressed dissatisfaction with your performance? Do you believe they were justified? What could you have done differently or better?

5.       If you were forced to stay in your current job, what steps could you take to make it more rewarding/enjoyable?


What it Sounds Like:

In this context, we’re talking about emotional intelligence… humanity… ability to empathy with another’s POV. If someone appears very self-absorbed or opinionated, and doesn’t care what others think, I have a hard time believing they’ll be an effective negotiator. If they can’t imagine the goals of their opponent, how can they address them artfully and achieve an agreement? They’re more likely to bully, whine and bang away in their own self interest. These people will make your staff cry and your clients fire you.

Interview Questions:

1.       Tell me about a time you had to express dissatisfaction with a colleague. Do you believe you handled it effectively?

2.       What’s your conflict style? Do you think it’s important to maintain amicable relations at all costs or are there occasions when a more assertive approach is required?

3.       What are your greatest strengths and vulnerabilities as a negotiator? What makes you a persuasive negotiator?

4.       Tell me about a situation where it was more important to reserve your opinion than speak you mind.

5.       How important do you consider compassion as a leadership quality?

Final Thoughts: Inspiring On It people

1.       On It people are doers, movers and shakers. They’re inherently allergic to inaction and that’s why we love them. Rules, meetings and endless talk about how to do something will cause their results-oriented minds to atrophy.

2.       On It people don’t accept things at face value. They want to know why, understand the purpose, value and outcome. Support decisions, directions and feedback with rationale.

3.       Put them in charge. They need to feel ownership and accountability. Challenge them to solve a problem or come up with an improvement. Give them opportunities to stretch outside their comfort zone or elevate their thinking.

4.       Acknowledge their contributions. Everyone loves to hear praise in the form of “That’s a great idea.” On It people are especially responsive to “I need your unique expertise here.” It’s too seductive for them not to provide advice and leadership.

5.       Finally, set an example. When you say “I’m on it,” commit to carrying something thru to swift and flawless resolution.

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