Mark Scott: When you take the time to see what makes a person tick, you’ll have much better luck making good hires

Rich Panico has high expectations for the people who come to work for him at Integrated Project Management Co. Inc. If you’ve made it through the interview process and been hired for a job, you’ve demonstrated to him that you have both the heart and the mind to thrive in his organization.

And if you’ve somehow managed to fool him through that process, you probably won’t last long as one of his employees.

The rigor Panico brings to hiring is part of an effort to maintain a culture that he has been building for years. Skill is certainly important, but he is confident that he can work through most of those issues if the person has a strong work ethic and impeccable character. So his mission is to find the people who fit that mold and to weed out the ones who don’t.


Don’t worry about skill level

Many leaders will tell you that finding the right people is the biggest challenge they face in leading their business. It’s an imperfect science because in most cases, you have to make a judgment call on a person you know very little about, beyond the one or two interviews you had and the resume and references he or she provided.

Panico’s point is you need to focus on the person rather than what they can do. Use the resume to ensure that they have the qualifications to do the work you’re looking for. But once you know that, spend the time in interviews getting to know their personality and character traits. Find out what matters to them in life.

Both Panico and his company have won numerous awards for ethics, so it seems clear that the man knows what he’s talking about. He firmly believes that a person with the right character, even if they are missing a few points on their resume or have a skill set that isn’t the strongest, can be brought up to speed to do the job well.


Be willing to slow it down

The frazzled leader might respond that he or she doesn’t have time to do skill training. They need new employees to come in and jump right into the fray to keep everything moving along. But if the person is not a good fit in your culture in terms of teamwork or adaptability, are you really going to be any better off?

Everyone is busy, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. But the time you commit to vetting job candidates, both for skill and character, will almost always be worth it. You’ll appreciate it and so will your existing employees who will be asked to work with this person every day and help them become a part of your culture. So take the time to do it right.


Mark Scott is Senior Associate Editor for Smart Business Chicago. Reach him at [email protected] or (440) 250-7016