Detecting “Owners” in the Interview Process

Many of my posts recently have focused on the concept of Owners versus Renters in the workplace.  It is helpful to understand how to differentiate between one and the other while they are at work, but it would be even more helpful to be able to understand who has ownership tendencies prior to them ever stepping foot in the door at your firm.  Let’s spend some time this morning talking about how to detect owners in the interview process.  By doing this it can prevent bringing on more staff members who are not in this for the long haul.  Considering the cost of bringing people on board, doesn’t it make sense to do what it takes to get the “right” candidate on board the first time rather than having to choose, remove and then hire again?

In comparing Owners vs. Renters I have used the Gallup Q12 questions to help understand between employees who are engaged and those who are not.  This works well for those currently in your workforce, but they will need to be revised to some degree in order to screen out the Renters in your hiring process.  One other item to consider is that having some renters is not necessarily a bad thing.  Renters can be good for the short term, but seasonal role, and for many firm this type of role can be crucial.  It has been my experience that most firms would prefer Owners in the workplace for the longer term roles.  This only solidifies their interest in the firm and fully focuses their efforts on their current and future work.

Let’s review the 12 questions.  In addition, I will insert potential interview questions you might ask to glean whether someone has ownership tendencies from previous roles:

Potential interview questions:

  1. Describe how your performance was measured in your previous roles?   Did your previous employers measure your performance in a way that helped you improve or understand your effectiveness?
  2. Did you always have the materials and equipment needed to perform your job correctly in your previous roles?  Describe how you obtained what you needed in order to be effective?
  3. Did your previous employers understand your strengths and how to best leverage them in the work you performed?
  4. How often did your previous employer praise your work or point out what you were doing well?
  5. Describe the relationship you had with your previous or current supervisor?  Tell me about the best boss you have had; what made him/her effective and good to work for?
  6. Have you had mentors or co-workers who helped you to develop and grow in your previous roles?
  7. How did you communicate your opinions in your previous roles?  Do you feel your input or voice mattered?
  8. How did your previous role fit the mission or purpose of the company you worked for?  If it did not fit, how did you try to adjust your work?
  9. Describe the effort put forth by those you worked with in previous roles?  Were you part of an effective team?  How did you work to improve the work of your teammates?
  10. What will be hardest to give up if you leave your present role?  Do you spend time outside of the workplace with those you work with daily?
  11. How effective was the performance management or review process in your previous roles?  Do you feel your previous employers did a good job of helping you understand your strengths and weaknesses?  Did you have a  good idea of your career path?
  12. How did your previous employers provide opportunities for advancement and growth?  Did you ever pass on an opportunity for advancement; if so, why?

The questions above expand on the 12 questions philosophy and  hearing the answers to some of these will help you learn more about the level of engagement a candidate had in their previous role or roles.

Employees who were previous owners may be the best candidates to be future owners in your firm.  This doesn’t mean that a renter in a previous role might not become an owner in your firm if you engage him/her appropriately.

What do you think?



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