Hiring is one of the most important aspects of building a successful business. It's the best way to build a healthy, high-functioning culture. And it's also one of the biggest reasons businesses fail.
Because if you're not selecting the best candidates, you're filling short-term demands while creating long-term problems. You're diluting your culture, sacrificing on your values. And you're regressing to the mean.
As a coach and licensed therapist, I have extensive personal and professional experience with interviewing. I have been trained on how to conduct interviews at an expert level and make important decisions based on the data my trained eyes observe.
Over the last five years, I've also been a candidate in well over 30 interviews for various internship positions across the US. With all of this experience on both sides of the table, I've discovered one trait that seems to separate good candidates from great ones. And it's much simpler than you think.
Most people believe that interviewing is complex. And it is--there are many variables to pay attention to when conducting an interview. You need to pay attention to the manifest content of the candidate's speech--what they're saying--and the latent content--the unconscious, unintended meanings of their communication.
You need to observe body language and tone. You must challenge yourself to be aware of and then bracket out your own personal biases and understand the ways in which your own lived experiences as a cultural being impacts the way you perceive others.
And, if you're really good, you need to decipher how the candidate thinks. Yes, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior--and that's important--but if you don't understand why the person did what they did, you won't know how they'll perform in their new role.
All of these complex processes take years to master. And yet, one trait that I believe is often overlooked helps employers make better hiring decisions, even if they aren't professionally-trained psychologists.
The one undervalued trait that employers must look for in prospective employees is mindfulness.
Mindfulness, or the quality of present-awareness cultivated through meditation, is crucial to success in the modern world.
American workers live in hyper-stimulated environments. Surrounded by interactive screens, most individuals walk through each day not realizing how much excessive noise is entering their minds.
They do the best they can to focus on their work, while also thinking about 100 other things that they need to do. While they're sitting on their workplace computers, assuming that they aren't, at that very second, checking social media, they are likely following their stream of consciousness no matter where it goes.
When you live your life inside the thought-stream, you have no idea what it's like to sit on the riverbank and witness the water's movement. To watch each thought arrive and then flow away like leaves on the stream. To find stillness and peace between moments of chaos.
But when you practice deepening your state of presence, you're able to bring more attention to each moment. To become a better listener, a more efficient worker, and you develop more efficient emotional regulation.
Mindfulness makes you a better employee. You get sick less, have improved distress tolerance, and can retain more information in a shorter amount of time than others without this trait.
Mindfulness also makes you a better person.
You're able to more clearly convey your thoughts and feelings. And you have the ability to listen to others with more compassion than individuals who are so consumed by their own thoughts that they can't possibly listen to someone else.
During an interview, you can notice the felt-sense of mindfulness.
Is the candidate tracking your questions? Do they have the ability to recall and integrate something you said earlier in the day into their responses? Do you feel their grounded self-assurance and genuine confidence? Do they demonstrate an ability to listen and make you feel heard?
You could even ask them about whether or not they practice meditation. Whether your company values mindfulness or the qualities of mindful employees, it's important that you integrate this component into your interviews.
The trait of mindfulness is the single most undervalued and overlooked trait in hiring. But I promise it won't stay that way for long.
Start prioritizing mindfulness in your hiring practices so that you can build an amazing culture with the best possible employees.