Building a good team is a tricky thing. As founders, managers, CEOs, and other individuals with hiring responsibilities, we've honed the interview questions we ask as part of a formula we've each created to help determine whether a candidate is qualified for a position. But at the end of the day, there's one fundamental question we need to be able to answer: "Who is the best fit for the job?" Sometimes, that person is a total wild card.
Experience is a key factor in making hiring decisions, but the type of experience that makes a candidate the right choice isn't always linear. Here's how I know.
Recently, one of my company's clients had to conduct layoffs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the employees affected was a gentleman named Matt. During his time with that company, Matt worked closely with our program management team and had developed a solid understanding of many of our processes and procedures. When we learned that he was on the market, we happened to have an opening in that department. It felt a little bit like kismet, but this would be an unconventional hire.
Someone like Matt normally wouldn't have been a target for us. Part of that was the geographical challenge; he's based in New York City and our offices and warehouse are in central New Jersey. Prior to the pandemic, we were a little more old-school in that everyone showed up to the office every day, and that commute isn't ideal for most people. With many of our teams now working together seamlessly and productively online, physical location isn't an issue. The other, more pressing piece of the puzzle was that he didn't have traditional experience in the position we were looking to fill.
All things being true, we saw Matt as an attractive candidate. No, he didn't have the direct program management training or experience we expected we'd be looking for, but since he was already familiar with our business--and more specifically, this department--we knew he would bring unique insight to that team that didn't yet exist.
What made Matt a desirable candidate was not his program management skill set, but rather the valuable insight, experience, and knowledge of Dotcom Distribution's inner workings that he cultivated while working with us as a partner. When Matt joined us, while he was stepping into an entirely different role than he'd ever held previously, his intimate understanding of our infrastructure allowed him to identify gaps early on. Because he was already familiar with our organizational background and knew his team members, there was also less of an onboarding process
Ultimately, this decision benefited all parties--Matt quickly secured a new job with a company he knows and likes, and we gained a team member with a distinct skill set and perspective.
A person may not have experience in a role, but because of their previous point of view as a customer, vendor, or other constituent, he or she may already know your language, understand your gaps, or have an advantageous outlook on what is and isn't effective. That's the kind of experience I want on my team.