Why Hiring for Trust is Critical

Many of our clients are owner-led businesses, and they have many things in common. One of them is their reluctance to trust “outsiders,” meaning employ people they don’t already know. This leads them to hire family and friends which often holds them back. They end up prioritizing familiarity over competence. But what if they learned how to interview for trust?

What will it cost if trust is broken? We recently started a search for an Executive Assistant for an entrepreneur. Being able to trust the EA is critical for many reasons. The EA will have access to the owner’s contacts (many of whom are well known celebrities), and will have access to her banking information.The EA will learn how this owner thinks and conducts business, and have access to her trade secrets. It’s critical that we hire the right person, and that starts with finding someone she can trust.

Most people think of trust as predictive trust: you can count on the person to do what they say they’ll do. However, what’s critical is vulnerability based trust, meaning the person can admit their weaknesses, ask for help when they need it, and apologize when necessary. Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, discusses the difference in this video.

How can you interview for trust? Try these questions:
  • When was the last time you apologized to a co-worker for something? What happened? Why did you apologize?
  • Tell me about a time when you told your boss you needed help with something? What did you learn from that experience?
  • What are your beliefs about your weaknesses?
  • What is a skill or competence you feel you are still missing?
  • What is the biggest mistake you’ve made at work? Who identified the mistake, you or someone else? What did you do about it?

We will know we found the right candidate when the person can respond to these questions naturally, and without redirecting the conversation toward a strength or a rehearsed interview answer. Try these questions yourself in your next interview and let us know the result.

Please contact me for additional assistance with recruiting new employees, or building more trust within your organization.