DO YOU really know what you’re looking for when you interview someone for a job? Let me suggest to you that it’s not just about their knowledge, experience, or their intelligence. It’s about their talent to do the job.

Let me ask you another question: How do you like your coffee? I’m very partial to Starbuck’s Tall Americano with “no room for milk”. I’ve been hyped up on it wherever I travel to, and it always tastes consistent. And in Singapore’s Starbucks outlets, they ask you if you want your muffin warmed up — I haven’t experienced that anywhere else.

Outlets like Starbucks are successful because they provide a consistent experience across the board. We all know where we could purchase a cheaper cup of coffee, but the Starbucks experience draws us in. I also have to say, that the coffee serving process is usually excellent — happy, smiley people and fast service.

The other day, I encountered “Mr Grumpy”. He was banging the cups of coffee at the counter and grunting out what coffees they were. I asked him which coffee was mine (I’m not scared) and he growled at me. I had to ask him again, before politely pointing out the error of his ways.

This guy shouldn’t be there, and I don’t necessarily blame him for his poor customer service. I don’t think he is suitable to be in a frontline service job, and no amount of training will help.

My question is: “Where is the person who put him in the job?” If you are a manager or a business owner then I’m sure you have interviewed people to join your team. Are you absolutely sure you know who you are looking for when you interview someone? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

A job advertisement for a sales manager for a soft drinks business says: “We are looking for someone with excellent relationship building skills, vision, drive and energy. You must be results-driven and be able to demonstrate leadership and highly developed inter-personal and management skills.”

Now that is fairly standard stuff and what you expect to see in a job advertisement. If I was trying to find someone for that job, what I would really be looking for is someone to increase the sales of soft drinks. Let’s face it, that is the outcome the employer really wants. It is great to have all the qualities listed above, but at the end of the day, can this sales manager bring in the business?

Let’s go back to Mr Grumpy’s coffee shop. If it was your business and you needed to employ someone to join the team, what qualities would you look for in a job candidate? You might say: Someone with a bit of experience in a coffee shop, someone who looks clean and tidy and who’s a nice, pleasant person.

What I would look for in addition to the above qualities is: one who makes the customers want to buy more coffee or food and one who makes the customer want to come back and recommend my coffee shop to others.

When you are preparing to interview someone, be absolutely clear in your mind what outcomes you need from this person. It’s not only about their experience or their intelligence; it’s about their talent to do the job.

It does not matter what kind of business you are in, talent is what you are looking for. It could be

*The talent to sell;

*The talent to detect problems quickly; and

*The talent to analyse information accurately.I have seen lots of salesmen who have great relationship building skills, vision, drive and energy, as described in the job advertisement, but they did not bring in the sales.

You need to ask the right questions, those that uncover the person’s talent to achieve the outcomes you require.