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Although it’s an important skill, most people have a hard time making accurate judgments of character. The good news is that it is a skill that can be learned, which helps you avoid hiring mistakes and make better judgments quickly.
There are ten basic markers that will help you judge a person’s character.
Talk time vs. Listen time
Someone who is confident and expresses his views is ideal, but it’s important that the person only do a little more than half the talking. Why? Because talking more than that either indicates that he is very self-important, or extraordinarily nervous.
A giver or a taker?
It’s fairly easy to tell if the energy a person breathes is negative or positive. If you find yourself feeling drained after your initial meeting, you probably don’t want to pursue a relationship with that person, either in a personal or business capacity.
How they tackle new projects
There are two types of people; those who dislike change and are critical and defensive when asked to do a new job or task, and those who leap right in, cheerfully tacking new tasks.
Fake praise and flattery are indicative of someone sucking up because they don’t really have much to offer. People who actually do have the skills don’t need to suck up.
What are their friends like?
The best way to find out about a person is by the company they keep. Although this is not always possible in interview scenarios, you may find it useful in your personal life. It’s also always possible to request personal references of job candidates, which are often friends or coworkers who offer insight by talking to them.
How does he treat strangers?
Whether he’s polite or rude to your receptionist is important. Does he have the empathy to be polite and have a genuine conversation with a waiter, or does he ignore the cab driver’s attempts at lighthearted conversation about the weather?
Almost always, people who haven’t had any struggle in their lives don’t quite live in the same world as everyone else. Having some sort of struggle that they had to overcome or learn to live with makes a person more genuine and hard working.
It’s common practice to ask an interviewee what they’ve been reading. It’s not so much what they’ve actually been reading, but what their answer to this question tells you. If they say they have been reading something that directly relates to the job they’re applying for, they are either sucking up, or genuinely trying to improve their knowledge of their career. If it’s fiction, this could mean they have a “work hard, play hard” attitude that keeps them on track. Anything else and you’ll have to come to your own conclusions.
Be worried if the candidate has a hard time answering this question. Unless they have a packed schedule, which you should be able to see on their resume; it could mean they’re quite uninterested in life, which could translate into just “going through the motions” on the job.
How would you feel if stranded?
Ask yourself how it would make you feel to be stranded with this person, alone, for a long period of time. If it would make you uncomfortable, move on to another candidate.
Although this is often difficult to figure out, try to determine if the person is really honest with himself about his strengths and weaknesses. It can be good to compare his evaluation of self with that of a personal reference, although that’s often not possible. Try to look for behavior consistent with what the person says. For example, if he claims be a good communicator, but isn’t completely answering your questions, you may have found an error in his self-evaluation.
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Serge is the founder of Edictive site a film production platform. He finds himself using the above methodology to evaluate potential employees and conduct on-going six monthly reviews.