Shona Hamilton-Higgins, Director, Lilac HR
Shona Hamilton-Higgins is the HR Warrior Princess of Lilac HR and knows a thing or two about the qualities to look for when hiring anyone. In this interview, they share some insights with The Industry Leaders.
Can you share a little about your background and experience in hiring and building successful teams?
I have worked in HR for over 10 years with experience in manufacturing, social care and IT. I have supported countless managers over the years to hire the right people to support their teams and I have also seen the consequences of not getting it right.
What are the top 3 qualities you look for when hiring anyone.
Initiative. Regardless of the role I am hiring for, I want to see candidates who show initiative, show they can think for themselves and aren't afraid to take action.
Integrity. It's so important to me that candidates have the ability to own up to their mistakes, be honest within the workplace and act with integrity at all levels.
Drive. I love people who are self-motivators, keen to take the bull by the horns and get stuck in.
What are some examples of questions you might ask during an interview to determine whether a candidate possesses these key qualities?
I love scenario based questions. These give you a really good view of whether a candidate has the qualities you are looking for and whether they would approach situations in their role in the way you would expect. For example, if a candidate says their first response to a problem would be to tell their manager and ask for help, they probably don't have a lot of initiative to at least try to find a solution before going to their manager.
If you had to assign weightings to the above qualities, which would get the highest weighting, and why?
For me, it would be initiative. I need people on my team to be able to work off their own back, make decisions and take action without being micro managed.
How do you assess people for qualities like adaptability, resilience, and a growth mindset during the hiring process?
You have to ask the right questions. Don't ask "have you got a growth mindset?" but instead ask "what are your goals for the next 12 months?". For things like adaptability and resilience, I would look to set a task for the candidate with a time limit to complete it and present the results back to the interview panel. You could even be deliberately awkward during the presentation to see how they respond and react to being put under pressure.
How do you balance evaluating a someone's technical skills with their soft skills and overall fit for your team and company culture?
Great question! You can't train someone to have initiative or to act with integrity. They either do or they don't. But you can train someone on technical skills, particularly if they have the right soft skills. Equally, if someone has the right soft skills, they will probably fit in with the team anyway. Cultural fit and values will determine whether that person is fundamentally happy in their role, however if you don't have time or resources to train technical skill, you might have to prioritise that over cultural fit.
Is there one particular source you tend to find the best candidates?
It depends on the role I am recruiting for. Job boards like Indeed are great for entry level roles, but LinkedIn and other, more specialist job boards are better for more senior level roles. You always have to think about where your dream candidate might be hanging out.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to build a hiring process?
Consider your dream employee for the role you are recruiting for. Similar to the way we create our dream client profiles for marketing, you want to do the same for your employees. Think about who they are, what is important to them, what do they value above all else and what they expect from a workplace and where they will look for a job. Then you can build your hiring process from there.
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