Looking for people with positive attitudes, likable and extroverted personalities is one common hiring mistake. It's a myth that candidates who can sell themselves well will be able to perform just as well (unless they are applying for sales position).

Instead, it is important to look for specific skills and performance history and this one key attribute: the ability to work autonomously. Bringing on a team member is similar to bringing on a partner and looking for someone you can get a long with is not always the winning strategy. You will need a partner to pull their own weight in the relationship.

For example, if you are hiring for a marketing position, you might want to give the candidate a mini project to review their creativity and the quality of their deliverable in order to review their specific skills. Speaking to a candidate and having them answer questions might not cut it. A mini interview project will allow you to review their marketing and creative skills in a more meaningful way than simply having a conversation.

Beyond the candidates skill set, the one key attribute you want to look for in every candidate, no matter the position you are hiring for, is the ability to work autonomously within a team. Are they able to keep themselves accountable and find areas in their department they can contribute and add value to?

How to identify if a candidate can work and contribute value autonomously

  1. Ask the candidate to map out their work flow at their previous job.
  2. Ask them how they were able to contribute value to their work flow over the time period they worked for the company.
  3. Are they portraying a sense of ownership over their workflow?
  4. What was their previous reporting system - who, how and when did they report their work to?
  5. Were they reporting on their own time or was someone asking them to report on a timeline?
  6. Show them the current status of the work flow in the department or team you are hiring for.
  7. Ask them where they see areas of contribution and how they would tackle implementing their ideas.
  8. Give them a mini project during the interview (or to take home) to test their time management skills.

Hiring a candidate that can work autonomously means that you have more time to do your part in contributing value to your own work flow without focusing too much on managing their time and work flow.

Babysitting a team member to get their work done can drag a whole team down.

This one key attribute will allow team members to contribute their creative ideas and work together to grow without being micro managed or dragged down by needing to keep other team members accountable.

Focus less on a candidate's personality and likability and look for skills and the ability to contribute value autonomously.