Although hiring for your front desk is very important to your business’ success, hiring for an executive position is a different ball game in terms of the questions you ask and the qualities you look for in a candidate.
“Something as important as an executive position isn’t about how they answer a couple of canned questions,” said Michael Olander Jr., the founder of O2 Fitness. “It is about how you can get a feel for who they are, if your visions align and can work as a team towards the same goals.”
To get a feel for these qualities, Olander Jr. has found that having a relaxed conversation and spending quality time with a candidate are revealing approaches. “I feel strongly that people who are qualified for this level of position can come up with canned answers to most any question in a traditional interview setting and perhaps just tell you what they think they want you to hear,” he said. “But in a relaxed conversation and time together you can reveal who they truly are.”
In addition, Olander Jr. tries to be as up front as possible with the candidate. “I also tend to be very clear about the challenges ahead,” he said. “I strive to make them understand my expectations and how difficult the journey may be, and ensure they are really up for it.”
Olander Jr. explained he’s looking to discover more about the person, versus their experience. “For us, we want to make sure the candidate has the mental toughness to come into an aggressively growing company and not just survive, but contribute,” said Olander Jr. “We have made the mistake in the past of taking into account too much their success in larger, more mature brands — often the culture shift to something more entrepreneurial does not lead to a replication of success.”
As for what red flags Olander Jr. looks for, he said, “While it is a fairly long-held assumption, we do tend to discount to some degree people who have not had job continuity, or have jumped around from company to company. However, as our COO recently said (in regards to me bringing up a different red flag on an applicant’s resume he was hiring for), ‘that’s why I don’t interview resumes.’ Only so much can be gleaned from a sheet of paper.”