Mitch Creem has learned that you need self-starters on your management team.
“I’m looking for people who I feel are ‘doers,’ people who can actually get things done,” says Creem, CEO of USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital. “You come across a lot of people who know theory, know management theory, know what’s happening in an industry, but you really need people who can take and translate good management ideas into action and can do that through delegation and getting their people behind them.”
The first step to finding a doer is getting to know someone during the hiring process.
“It is hard on paper to do it,” he says. “I make sure that I meet with them at least two, if not three, times and I try to get past the first interview where I feel like we’re both really selling each other and, in particular, I’m trying to sell them on the organization.”
During those second and third interviews, Creem probes how candidates handle real-life situations that call for action.
“I can see more about the person and ask them questions about how they would handle certain situations and what would they do in this particular job and give them some scenarios to work through with me on how they would approach it,” he says.
He’s not looking for a perfect answer. He just wants to see the person take charge of the situation.
“I can see it by questions they ask me,” Creem says. “How would I support them; ... how much autonomy. And then I give them examples of situations and how would I handle it, and I can get a strong sense of whether they can get things done or not.”
Creem also puts candidates in a room with an established doer or two from his existing team.
“It’s also important for me to have them interview with other folks that I feel are doers, and I ask these people to tell me frankly whether they think they’re a doer or not a doer,” he says.