Finding the right people for an organisation is one of the most challenging aspects of any business. However, people make up the overall DNA, and hiring the right people who fit the business, its culture and values can make a hugely positive impact. Opposingly, hiring the wrong kind of people can very quickly damage your business.
It might sound strange, but one of the first things I ask prospective Leighton employees is nothing to do with the role they've applied for. Nor is it anything to do with their experience or the skills they may possess.
The first thing I ask an interviewee is what they like to do outside of work; what makes them tick and what excites them. Why? Because of all the questions I could ask them, this one gives me a feel for who they are and whether they are the right fit for Leighton.
In many ways, social media has revolutionised both the practice of job hunting for the individual and the selection process for a business. Whilst those looking for work can now easily do so way beyond their immediate network thanks to Twitter, just five minutes on LinkedIn will present an employer with information about an applicant's experience, skills and suitability.
What's more, recruiters are increasingly using LinkedIn to headhunt talent anyway, and in the connected world we live and work in, references are easier to come by than they used to be.
As a result, as an interviewer I will now know much more about an applicant before they arrive for their interview than I would have done even just five years ago. These tools have elevated the process of hiring and interviewing beyond one that simply assesses skills against a set of requirements.
This produces - as I believe it should - an interview process that is now a means of hiring the right personality, as well as those with competent skill sets.
What's more, applicants for creative positions at Leighton are increasingly using their imagination with how they present their skills and experience in order to stand out from the crowd. While a crisp, clean CV will always have its merits, many creatives now look to infographic-style resumes, eye catching online CVs or even Prezi or YouTube generated applications or presentations to make an impression.
Even for more traditional roles at the company, such as Project Management or Finance, for example, the value of a high quality LinkedIn profile often outweighs a standard CV.
With such methods naturally leading to applicants sharing more with the recruiter than a standard CV ever could, as the interviewer I'm likely to feel I know the applicant inside out before we've even met. Together, all this means I have more time to discover the person I'm interviewing, rather than analysing the skills on the page.
And for me, that works.
Personality goes a long way
There is, though, more to modern hiring than fancy CVs or technological solutions.
At Leighton we increasingly talk about a candidate having the right 'fit'. Will they buy into what we're trying to achieve? Do they have the personality to fit in with the talented team already here? And crucially, are they of the calibre our clients will be happy to collaborate with?
Being able to answer these questions is key to every appointment, and understanding more of the personality behind a candidate is increasingly important to this process.
As a service provider, so much in our business centres on relationships and trust. I need to know that the people who are representing us in front of clients or partners, or more widely in the industry, have the personality to make those relationships work - and that's why I'm keen on understanding what makes someone tick and why there's an interest in how they enjoy themselves.
There is no requirement for a 'Leighton type'. No two employees are the same and neither would I want them to be. The key to a successful team is a blend of skills, experience and personalities and it's my opinion that such a blend is most successfully achieved with one unifying factor - passion - which in our case is for digital.
As I’ve said, we can always find out an applicant's experience and suitability for the role from many complementary sources, but the interview is the only chance we have to rate whether the character sat in front of you is perfectly suited to you and your company.
And it's because of this why I'm genuinely interested in what an applicant did at the weekend - whatever that was!