You should hire people for their professional skills and secondarily for their technical skills and educational experience. As the old adage says, “attitude before aptitude”. Several years ago a high-ranking US Navy officer made this point at an LSU graduation speech: “Graduates, be mindful that you have spent 4+ years mastering a set of technical skills that will get you places, but if statistics mean anything, most of you will unfortunately lose jobs and opportunities for your lack of professional skills. Focus on your professional skills.” Patrick Lencioni, in his book “The Ideal Team Player”, outlined the 3 professional skills and characteristics we should look for in all candidates: Humble, Hungry, People Smart.


During your interview process, ask question that can help you ascertain things like this:

» Does the person genuinely compliment teammates?

» Do they easily admit mistakes? » Are they coach-able and seek help from others who know?

» Do they take on lower-level work for the good of the team?

» Do they take credit or give credit to others?

» Does the person give/receive apologies graciously?


» Do they do more than what is required?

» Do they have passion for the team “mission”?

» Do they apply themselves to improve things?

» Do they take on tedious challenges as needed?

» Do they propose new ideas that help solve problems?

» Do they contribute outside their immediate area?

SMART (people smart)

» Are they mindful how other personalities feel during meetings and interactions?

» Do they show empathy to others on the team?

» Do they show interest in the lives of others?

» Do they know how to listen attentively?

» Do they adjust their approach with other personalities as needed for the situation?

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