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How to find Givers when Hiring

How do you hire the best talent into your organization? If you believe your people are your best asset how do you make sure you are hiring in a way that will protect and lift those assets? I believe employees can be a company's biggest asset, but that is not to say anyone you hire immediately becomes a huge asset. Too many companies during the interview process focus on understanding the person's skill level. While this is important I believe it is the soft skills and the personality type that is most important. However, most interviews spend very little time trying to flush these traits out. The personality traits of a person are hard to flush out in a 60 minute interview, which is probably why most people don't try.

A while back I watched a talk from Adam Grant on TED about giver's and taker's. This talk really rang true for me and my experience at different companies. I really believe that if a company can fill their ranks with Givers (or at least Matchers) they will fair much better. The question though is how does one find the givers? How can you understand this about someone in a short interview or series of short interviews? Here are the approaches I have found and value the most.
Here are some questions you can ask.

Can you give me the names of four people whose careers you have fundamentally improved?

This question is not about rather they can give you names but where in the organization these people are in relation to them.
The takers will give you the names of four people who have more influence than they do. Hot shot names you'll be impressed by. This is because takers excel at kissing up. And they use the people below them as stepping stones. They care more about influence than they do about helping.  -

The givers, on the other hand, will give you the names of four people you've likely never heard of. People who are equal to them or below them on the totem pole of power. That's because givers aren't in the business of helping to help themselves succeed.  -
The other question you can ask to help gage rather they are are giver is something a long the times of "Can you give me an example of how you worked a task on a team when no one on the team wanted to do the task?" The idea here is to get a feel for rather they took a take, giving or matching approach to the problem. Did they just tell someone on the team they have to do it or convince them to do it. Or did that fall on their sword to move the team forward?

If you have the ability to take the person to a meal here is a great trick from the CEO of Charles Schwab. Maybe you can't put them in a situation like this but what other ways can you see if they are willing to give up what they want to help work through an issue? Ordering in a collection of different food boxes can also help with this. Does the person try to get up and be the first one to get the food to make sure they get what they want? Or do they try and make sure everyone else is able to get food and the team is satisfied?

Let's spend less time in interviews focused on rather or not people can check the right boxes for skills and more time on figuring out how they go about checking those boxes. For each taker you hire into your organization you swing a matcher to work that way or cancel out a givers desire to be a giver. 

Keep in mind, as Grant says in his research, Givers can become Takers at times. So just because you think you have hired a Giver it does not mean they will always be a giver. Your next challenge is the work to make sure your employees stay Givers.
My father said there were two different kinds of people in the world: givers and takers.  The takers may eat better but the givers sleep better. -Marlo Thomas


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