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The Only Question You Need to Ask When Hiring

motus logoHiring is hard but the most critical task of any organization. Just look at the number of online hiring platforms and you can quickly relate to how difficult it is for a company to swim through the sheer masses of candidates to find the right team members.

Yet resumes don’t make this job much easier. While they are valuable starting points for gauging experiences, skills and work histories of candidates, they’re far from comprehensive (and sometimes not even accurate).

So how can prospective employers truly evaluate a candidate’s ability to not only be productive but thrive within their specific organization?

Ask This to Yourself 

What I have found is that the most important questions to ask are not the ones you pose in an interview with the candidate themselves. Rather, after reading a resume or conducting an interview, ask yourself this: Do this candidate’s values align with our company’s values?  Will they be able to thrive within the cultural tenants that we derive as an organization from our values?

At Motus, we use the core tenets of our culture as the primary lens through which we view a candidate’s potential. And, we routinely focus on the individual’s values over their experiences or demonstrated skills. We find this to be particularly critical when hiring from the outside workforce or hiring more “experienced” professionals. We want candidates with a desire to work within the tenants of our culture – most notably, “team over self”. Like every company, we have a specific and unique culture that isn’t for everyone – nor do we think it should it be.  We have found that alignment around our values – Bravery, Curiosity, Exceptional – and the cultural tenants we derive from these values, far outweighs and individual resume specific qualifications. We much prefer the value an aligned candidate brings over the “super-qualified” candidate.

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But What About Experience?

Right now, you’re likely thinking, “Yeah, sure. Does experience have zero roles in the hiring process?  Really?” Your snarky skepticism is appreciated, and well placed…I was once there myself.

While some qualifications are clearly necessary for even pursuing a role – developers need to know how to develop, designers how to design, accountants that can account – the more important attributes are those beyond these technical skills. We’ve found it’s more effective to have the internal support to teach and develop our talent’s skillset when they might be lacking a specific employment experience so long as they are aligned to our corporate vision and cultural tenants.

Motus specifically offers a Talent Accelerator Program (TAP), which works to develop the skills of our team members – specifically those that have zero to four years of work experience. During this two-year program, team members rotate through different business functions – first serving as the front line to our customer base – learning where the “rubber meets the road” of our business and hearing the direct feedback of our users and clients every day. Once they understand the voice of our users, they rotate within our Business Development, Marketing, Project Management or Technology teams. Upon completing the TAP program, these “trainees” are eligible for promotion into one of the functional areas of our business. Our preference for homegrown talent results in much greater cultural alignment, long term retention, and assurance that team members understand our users as well as various aspects of our business before being thrust into a single department or function. Most importantly, all TAP graduates understand each other and the experiences they’ve each had.

Bigger than an individual’s ability to shine or stand-out, we are focused on their ability to be a part of a team. We are not interested in hiring heroes who can single-handedly do it all – have yet to meet that person. We want each member of our team to do their part and support the team with its efforts to surface and solve problems. Our expectation is that by creating a collaborative environment where everyone is empowered to bring their ideas to the table but expected to buy-into and support the wisdom of the team, we achieve a cultural tenant that empowers the individual while harnessing the power and diversity of an aligned team.

It only takes one person that puts themselves before the whole to hold a team back from reaching its potential. There are countless examples of this in sport – stellar individual players that didn’t come together as a team. And, on the flip-side, countless examples of less-stellar individuals that worked together to win as a team.

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Building Teams That Last

A critical aspect of our hiring process is a dedicated orientation for all new team members. During the initial six months, a new team member will meet cross-functionally throughout the company, regardless of their role or title. Teams work closely at Motus, and forming name and face recognition alongside with intra-company networking and understanding develops cross-functional relationships.

Our new hires also meet with key stakeholders within each functional area of our company. Their understanding of the whole picture and the work being done outside of their direct team provides context for their role within the greater vision of what we are working toward and why their work matters to the whole.

The final piece to our orientation process is keeping good talent. Good talent is hard to find, and we want their experiences as a new team member at Motus to be positive and intuitive. This is where cultural fit really comes into play. Ideally, if we’ve answered that one hiring question right, everyone we surround ourselves with will be a great fit and want to stay on as part of the team in the long run.

The best hiring asset we have at Motus is our internal promotion efforts. We believe that if you have survived our hiring, orientation and training program, we, in turn, know that we have hired someone that is aligned to the company’s global objectives – so promoting talent from within becomes a no brainer. First off, we know what they are capable of doing and in what types of positions they would be most useful. Secondly, they move into their new position not only with great speed, but we know that they understand our business and most importantly those we serve – our clients and users. Finally, they have a greater knowledge of our inner workings, cross-functionally and the critical inter-dependencies of functions in order to achieve company-wide success. Screening for value alignment, developing each individual’s talents and then elevating them into higher positions even when their experiences may not warrant the responsibility, works!

Long Story Short

When hiring, my advice is to consider more than what a candidate knows or their past experiences. Instead, design your hiring, onboarding and training processes around your organization’s values and cultural tenants. Put those values, spoken and written, front and center. Mold and craft your interview process around your core values, questions that test for historical demonstrations of these core values and cultural tenants and you will find great people who will excel and accelerate your organization forward on all fronts. We don’t get it right every time, obviously, but this approach has helped Motus to achieve rapid growth.