Skip to Content

3 rules for recruiting top talent

Maxine Mann, president of Teknion U.S.Maxine Mann, president of Teknion U.S.
Maxine Mann, president of Teknion U.S.Courtesy of Teknion

MPW Insider is one of several online communities where the biggest names in business answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you hire? is written by Maxine Mann, President of Teknion U.S.

In my position, it can be difficult to meet with every prospective employee, but I try my best to meet with as many people as I can—especially for front line and senior level positions. When I interview candidates, I look for more than just qualifications. I also evaluate whether the candidate can clearly articulate why he or she wants the position and what they would bring to the table. Taking the initiative to fully research the position and understand its requirements reflects a lot about how they will actually approach the job if hired. In other words, my main focus is getting a sense of what the prospective employee would be like in our work setting. Enthusiasm and commitment to doing a good job are equally if not more important than having the skills on day one.

In addition, posing “day-in-the-life” scenarios is helpful in weeding out those who aren’t the right fit. So I’ll throw in comments that test their ability to have a conversation. I’ll ask for a detour between point A and point B because I want to see how centered they are and if they can continue their thought. If our conversation diverts to another topic, I observe if the candidate can bring the topic back to answering the original question. It’s a matter of focus and centering their thoughts which is critical in day-to-day-business.

I also think it’s important to get them into a comfortable atmosphere where they talk about what they want to talk about. I want to get a sense of what they value – sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not. What it often comes down to though is a high element of “like.” When I walk away from an interview, I think, “would I like to meet them for a cup of coffee?” If I don’t feel connected to them, then my clients certainly won’t feel connected to them either.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you hire?

3 strategies to hire (and keep) your best employees by Karen Kaplan, Chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday.