How can you tell when a financial analyst is an extrovert? – Answer; When you engage them in conversation, they always look at your shoes rather than their own!
Seriously though, some of the most important choices we make in business relate to people and it really pays to get it right when recruiting otherwise you’ll live to regret it. At a time when the roles and responsibilities of the finance function are undergoing some fairly fundamental changes that demand better interpersonal skills, it pays to brush up on exactly how you assess candidates. These days you can quickly get beyond the basics of academic qualifications and past experience by looking them up on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn to see how big their personal networks are. However that doesn’t really show much about their character and emotional IQ. I’ve always involved some the team that the candidate would work with to sit in on a pre-prepared presentation and Q&A session when interviewing those on the final short-list as gauging softer traits is always much harder and it helps to have some other opinions.
But I really like this list of check questions that I found on an HBR blog written by Anthony Tjan, CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball, vice chairman of the advisory firm Parthenon, and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck (HBR Press, 2012). He says these ten key questions will help you better understand the intrinsic “why” and “how” behind a person:
- What is the talk-to-listen ratio?
- Is this an energy-giver or an energy-taker?
- Is this person likely to “act” or “react” to a task?
- Does this person feel authentic or obsequious?
- What’s their partner like?
- How would this person treat someone they don’t know?
- Is there an element of struggle in the person’s history?
- What has this person been reading?
- Would you ever want to go on a long car ride with this person?
- Do you believe that this person is self-aware?
I think it’s a great list and if that’s wetted your appetite, I think it’s only fair to ask that you check out Anthony’s original post to see why he picks these questions rather than others and to discover what exactly he’s trying to find out about the candidate. But he reckons that the more you ask yourself these questions about someone, or even a subset of them, the better you’ll become at judging people.
Meanwhile – have you got any tips that have stood the test of time?