This is part 2 of a three-part series.
How Can I Demonstrate Trust in a Virtual World?
We have been living and adapting to fewer in-person meetings and interviews. Meeting online in a video room can be more productive for people who already are familiar with each other, and have experience working together. However, how do you demonstrate that you and your team are trustworthy for people unfamiliar to you, like a new hire, a candidate, or a customer?
Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet are all two-dimensional platforms, and people can seem flat when viewed on the screen; it is impossible to feel or experience them as you would if you were in person.
The human ability to read people’s subtle cues/body language is lost – you cannot sense how people are reacting. It causes us all, as humans, to feel disconnected and emotionally flat. It also requires us to work harder to know who they are, what we viscerally feel, and what they are like when near. You do not know if this strange new person will energize or deplete your team. The candidate also has no idea if you are a great leader, if your team is truly collaborative or combative, or if the subordinates are productive.
Here is what you can do to be certain that you are building trust with the unfamiliar people between you and your team.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
An old saying is, “You are only as good as your word.”
Today, people are searching for reasons to build connections, and relationships, they want to know you will follow through on what you commit to. If you say you will, you do.
In an interview, this can be conveyed as a story. For example, “our mission is to build a tool with great predictive/ therapeutic capabilities to “save millions of lives.” You explain exactly how your product does just that and the journey the team took to get from where you started to where you are today. Step by step, how you overcame challenges, how you encouraged the team when they needed it, and course-corrected when that was required. Share what you learned about how the team grew together and how you reached your common goals. Consistency in doing what you say you will do will get you a long way in building trust.
Telling a true story compellingly conveys trust.
2. Be Prompt and Prepared
Trust is an emotion and a belief that others can rely on you. Demonstrating reliability by being on time is especially important now that you can no longer blame traffic! Being on time shows the other person that you value their time and can be counted on. This also applies to sticking to the time allotted for a meeting – do not go over.
Be prepared – do your homework on the candidate, read the CV, and have questions; anticipate their questions about the company, the team, your vision, mission, and values. Being curious about them, showing you care about who the person is, will impel you closer to someone and build strong bonds. That is what you are trying to accomplish.
3. Listen well
Be sure to convey that you comprehend what the other person is saying. An easy way to do this is to paraphrase or summarize what you heard. This allows the other person to clarify and trust you to be a seeker of true information and not base conclusions on assumptions.
You truly want to hear what the person has to say. This significantly reduces bias and builds trust. You want to listen for genuine behavior from people who are whole and real and who you want to add to your team. You must show them how whole and real you are and convey your vision for the future.
Be sure you extend the courtesy of listening to understand and show people you care. Speak and then listen, make room for the pause, and allow the other person to continue speaking, especially if they feel subordinate to you. Be gracious.
4. Be Welcoming
Treat your video conference guests like you would if you invited someone into your office or living room. The more comfortable and relaxed you make them feel, the more likely you are demonstrating your trustworthiness.
Be cognizant of what your viewers are seeing as your background. If you have a false background (or photo for a background), use a green screen, or you will become bits and bytes every time you move. This is very distracting, and you want someone to know you care enough about their experience to handle the little things.
Practice how you appear on video – be sure your appearance is not just a talking head with eyeballs but more of head and shoulders like you would if you were sitting in the same room. You want someone to think you are trustworthy, credible, and capable of leading.
5. Limit Distractions
Be sure you dress your part. If your company dress code is corporate casual, wear that. If you are in an executive-level role and the attire is more formal, wear a jacket and tie. Remove distractions: Tell your family you have an important call to make, and unless it is a dire emergency, you are not to be disturbed. The family is also not welcome to walk around behind you waving peace signs either! Put your pets in another room.
Your goal is to demonstrate that you are trustworthy, putting the other person at ease and instilling the belief ( in the candidate) that you and your current team can be counted on to do what they say they will do. You are conveying that without an in-person connection and benefit of human to human contact that we have relied on to measure trust.
I welcome your insight and experiences – feel free to reach out to me at: email@example.com.
How can you trust the candidate without meeting them in person?
This is the first in a 3 part series of blogs written as a tool for you to use during busy times when an in-person meeting is impossible. This tool will help you identify trustworthy candidates you cannot meet in person. The purpose is to reduce your anxiety about making a good choice. While there are no perfect candidates, there are plenty of strong, honest performers.
Let’s first examine what trust is and isn’t. Trust is an attribute, a feeling, and is essential to all successful relationships. Think back to when someone you know violated your trust and how hard it was for you to trust them again. Webster defines trust as the “Firm belief in the reliability, trust, ability or strength of someone or something.” Trust is also considered an emotional state, not solely an expectation of someone’s capability. Trust is an intangible asset and the glue of lasting relationships. Likely, the most difficult truth about trust is that it is an abstract mental attitude toward a proposition that someone is dependable ( a perception that is hard to control or manage). So, if trust is nebulous and a bit ethereal in substance, how can you know and measure trust in someone you do not know and have only experienced via video meeting or phone?
It is critical to your company’s success that you bring in trustworthy people who can work well with others. This will ensure the highest levels of productivity and success for you. After all, you cannot get as far as you want without great people on the team.
Behavioral interviewing is commonly applied to address trust in a candidate – but what happens when you are not in the same room and cannot read the silent cues? What you are looking for in a candidate is the assurance that the candidate can and will do what they promise. Here is a list of questions to explore that can help you assess the trustworthiness of a candidate. It is very important to verify their responses. One way is to verify their answers with their references to validate whether the candidate has performed as they say.
Has the candidate met or exceeded expectations and goals in past roles?
Does the candidate have a history of following through on verbal and written commitments?
Do you feel good about this person as a person?
Why do you feel good about this person?
Does this person have a history of creating strong, positive relationships?
Is the candidate paying attention to what you are asking, are they comprehending, are they asking clarifying questions or repeating your question to make sure they understand?
Is the candidate paying attention to what is important to you and what you want to accomplish?
As you can see, you are looking for depth of character and ability to deliver on what you need to have accomplished, work well within your team, and express solid communication skills. Listening and clarifying are very important to show that they desire to deliver and are likely trustworthy.
Laura Raynak is an executive search consultant with over 20 years of experience helping companies hire the right management team the first time. She specializes in hiring CEOs and vice president candidates for life science, medical devices, and consumer health companies. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trust is the cornerstone for all good business relationships. No deal will proceed in the absence of Trust, and nothing grows into a going concern without it: No hiring, no scale, no sales, no mergers, no fundraising, no increase in value. While most of us perceive or feel Trust, many of us have not figured out how to quantify or measure it in our colleagues; we can sense something feeling “off.” How can you systematically identify what element of Trust is missing?
I had a recent conversation with a client, which evolved into a discussion about Trust. Trust fuels and feeds all relationships, and while certain behaviors build Trust, others break Trust down. We discussed a formula he uses to identify and develop Trust in working relationships, which I thought to be very clever, and I decided to experiment with it. For the next two weeks, I would use this equation for all people I encountered to determine whether I could build a trusting relationship. Some of us think we know what to look for, such as a lack of transparency, facts not adding up, false timelines, body language, etc. These are not all readily quantifiable or consistently reliable determinants and do not fully cover how Trust is developed and measured in human relationships.
Let’s first take a look at all the elements of trustworthiness in humans. Credibility, reliability, ability to be vulnerable, and how oriented people are towards others.
Credibility is relatively straightforward and easy to identify in people – Is this person who they say they are? Are they forthright?
Reliability is based on capability plus willingness. Will this person do what they say they will do? Is this person able to do what they say they can do?
Intimacy is the person’s willingness and ability to be open to being emotionally vulnerable.
Does this person share their feelings openly with others?
Self-orientation or other orientation. Are they patient with others? Do they know the impact of their words and behaviors on others? The person needs to clearly communicate expectations and goals to others so that others are not guessing.
The trust equation looks like this:
Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy
The higher the self-orientation, the lower the Trust, and the more other-oriented, the higher the Trust. The higher the credibility, reliability, and emotional intimacy, the higher the Trust.
When interviewing, we verify the work history and accomplishments to validate credibility and reliability. We look at emotional awareness and demonstration of certain character traits to determine how each candidate demonstrates leadership.
For example, when assessing a candidate, we think about a few questions – we do not directly ask all these questions. Instead, we use them to think through information after the interview.
Does this person demonstrate humility? How? What was their most significant failure or biggest lesson, and under what circumstances did they learn it?
Is this person curious? Will this person be gentle enough to ask questions nonthreateningly to get the best answers? Will this person look for what people are not telling them?
Trust is the cornerstone of fitness. I would be interested to hear how you determine Trust in your relationships, what has and has not worked for you, and your biggest lessons around developing and sustaining Trust.
Laura Raynak is an executive search consultant with over 20 years of experience helping companies hire the right management team. Her scope encompasses CEOs, Vice Presidents, candidates for life science, medical devices, and consumer health companies.
How Does Human Nature Affect Your Ability to Assess Honesty in Candidates?
Have you ever met someone and instantly liked and trusted them, only to find out later that you had been misled? Have you ever trusted your gut and later discovered that you did not assess someone correctly?
When we lack a well-defined evaluation process for candidates, we can be swayed and not sort out fact from fiction in the interview. Also, our training can put us at a disadvantage and lead us to bias. For example, you assume everyone from a certain company has the same attributes, values and performance record because you know that the company did very well, or very poorly, or has a reputation for having a certain “Culture”. As search consultants, we know each person has strengths and weaknesses relative to every role and every company environment. Also, the company a candidate previously worked with can influence and shape their behaviors and preferences but not necessarily tell the entire story of their abilities and capacity to perform or what culture they naturally fit.
You need awareness of how your instinct (or intuition) plays to your ability to sort fact from fiction and how to navigate around that bias. Once you work to acknowledge your human tendency to trust people first and create awareness of how you form your opinions and decisions, you can better spot “untruths” in the interview process.
I recently heard Phil Maltin, an employment litigator and author, discuss how you can recognize dishonesty in a single conversation – which is sometimes all you have in the interview process.
Here’s an overview of what I learned:
1. Liars are language-based – they use specific words and language to explain. Often, their stories do not make sense, they don’t use logic when explaining, and their conversations are less structured.
2. Liars will distance themselves from involvement in the event. They will use less verbal intimacy (i.e. they don’t want to be directly involved) and may even refer to themselves in the 3rd party.
3. Liars typically use fewer examples or illustrations to describe an event. They may also appear less cooperative and negative. Their actions and behaviors may not be consistent with the stories they are giving you.
4. People who are close to you know you have an advantage because you are comfortable with them. These are the sneaky liars and can blindside you with their dishonesty, and you will have naturally let your guard down.
What can you do to avoid hiring a liar?
1. Prepare: Know your questioning strategy and that the information you seek is hidden in plain sight.
2. Know that body language may not always be the tell. Some people will be nervous interviewing and honest, so don’t hold that against them; others are practiced liars and are both calm and confident.
3. Make a connection with the candidate. Stay open-minded, irresistible, and unintimidating. Explain why you are asking a question. Get their guard down, and they will open up more
4. Ask follow on questions to understand the details of what they are telling you, you want their story so you can verify it later, after the interview.
5. Be humble and play detective – you want to understand their thinking – do not expect to hear the truth right away, but know it will surface in the course of the conversation.
6. Check references thoroughly.
References from people who have hired, worked with, and reported to this person are the best sources of information. I prefer to hear from people who provide balanced views, both what the person excels at and what they struggle with, as we are all works in progress and have strengths and weaknesses we are working on.
Great recruiters follow this process when we interview candidates. It balances building relationships and evaluating the strengths and credibility of the person we are interviewing. Also, recruiters can interview and evaluate a large pool of people with similar skill sets.
We can verify performance and strengths against a large pool of similar candidates before our clients even speak with them. We like to be the seekers of truth and capability.
Why Can’t I Hire My First Choice Candidate? Five Factors to Consider
How to win and influence your top candidates.
Undoubtedly, it is always a competitive employment market for top talent. Salaries are increasing, traffic is worsening, and top talent often has multiple choices and is likely comparing 2-3 offers at once. The business climate does not impact this for top performers. Candidates are more educated than ever and often have unprecedented access to information about you, your technology, the market for your technology, who you personally have worked with, and who works with you now. Like you, candidates are doing their homework on you and your team/ board of directors/ investors. These “A-Listers” will also possess a strong network and ask for input on their top choices. There are many factors in a top candidate’s decision regarding a new role. How can you influence YOUR top candidate to choose you and your company as the obvious best choice for them?
Here are 5 Factors that have the most impact:
1. Your reputation as a leader.
Great people attract and are attracted to other great people. Not just in performance and results but also in how they engage each other, lead, develop people, and treat others. Your potential total impact and your integrity matter to them. What do people say about you?
2. Your team.
Not just the level of talent and capabilities. You want your team to welcome all new potential team members. This can be difficult for science or technology-driven organizations. Your team must possess high Emotional Intelligence and display this capability in the interview process. The candidate needs to feel comfortable with the entire team, even if that candidate is not your first choice.
Your Business Model Can you articulate what you hope to accomplish with your company and the impact this hire will make? Is it compelling and enticing enough that
the candidate can understand your vision for the future and see themselves as a contributor to your success? Being a part of a strong team and taking you over the finish line? Strong candidates want to know that they are a part of a bigger plan and want to be able to view themselves as an integral part of your success.
3. Your brand
Your image says everything – it gives people a feel for what it is to work with you and a feel for how you approach people. Your website, marketing materials, slide decks, videos, etc. It may not seem all that important, but your website is the first place people go to check you out besides LinkedIn. It is very difficult to recover from a bad first impression. You don’t even need much information, but you do need enough to describe what you are doing and why, and you need a good look and feel. It is all part of your brand, and it is what enables you to attract people who will naturally resonate with you.
Your Physical Office Atmosphere. Fresh paint, clean carpet, and pleasant smells. This may sound very basic to you, but many office environments do not comply with this basic standard and are not welcoming. Beyond the physical office, people can sense your business’s “vibe” or “energy” when they enter the door. Be sure you hire an interior designer to help you with this. In the past, people would often give up creature comforts in exchange for cashing in on stock options, but no longer. Good people want to work in a place that feels “great.”
4. Your recruiting process
When clients have trouble closing on any candidate, it is because of a breakdown in their recruiting process. You must know who and when and communicate the next steps with timelines to all prospective candidates. The entire process gives the candidates a taste of what it will be like to work for you.
Attracting talent is as much an art as it is a science – getting people to feel great about you, your company, your technology, and your vision are all a part of your recruiting process. Think about how you can be more attractive. Your process is your tell. It is a live demonstration of how you get work done, the culture you have built or are building, and how organized and efficient you are. It is also very telling about how focused you are.
We work with companies to identify, select, and hire high-functioning leadership teams. We specialize in placing CEOs and Vice Presidents who perform to or beyond the expectations of the board that hires them, and we guarantee it. Call for a free consultation regarding the hiring of your next executive.
Implementing a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy is paramount to attracting and acquiring rare, hard-to-find leadership talent. This strategy should involve a combination of targeted sourcing, employer branding, and personalized engagement tactics. Here is a set of steps for the best strategy to attract exceptional individuals:
1. Market Segmentation and Talent Mapping: Conduct a thorough analysis of the talent market to identify key segments and subsegments where the desired rare talent is likely to be found. Develop a talent map to understand the competitive landscape, including rival organizations, academic institutions, industry associations, and professional networks, to pinpoint potential candidates.
2. Employer Branding and Value Proposition: Develop a compelling employer brand that highlights the unique value proposition offered by your organization. Articulate your company’s mission, vision, culture, and key differentiators authentically and engagingly. Emphasize the opportunities for impact and change that talented leaders will have by joining the organization.
3. Precise Job Descriptions and Targeted Messaging: Craft clear and detailed job descriptions that outline the responsibilities and qualifications and highlight the exciting challenges and growth prospects associated with the role. Tailor the messaging to resonate with the aspirations and motivations of the target leaders, using language that speaks to their professional goals.
4. Proactive Sourcing and Networking: Take a proactive approach to talent sourcing by leveraging internal and external networks. Establish connections with influential individuals in the industry, attend relevant conferences and events, and actively engage in professional communities where leadership talent congregates. Develop relationships with key thought leaders and influencers who can refer or endorse potential candidates.
5. Personalized Engagement and Candidate Experience: Provide a seamless and personalized experience for candidates throughout the recruitment process. Customize communication and interactions to resonate with the interests and aspirations of each individual. Showcase the organization’s commitment to talent development and provide opportunities for candidates to engage with current employees, including leadership, to foster a sense of connection and belonging.
6. Competitive Compensation and Benefits: Offer a competitive compensation package reflecting the market value of the rare leadership talent. Incorporate performance-based incentives, equity incentives, and opportunities for professional recognition. Provide a comprehensive benefits package that addresses candidates’ needs and align with their expectations.
7. Continuous Relationship Building: Recognize talent acquisition is an ongoing process and maintain relationships with potential candidates even if they are not immediately available or suitable for current openings. Utilize a robust candidate relationship management system to nurture relationships, provide relevant updates and opportunities, and cultivate a talent pool for future positions.
By implementing this comprehensive strategy, utilizing targeted sourcing methods, and employing persuasive and engaging senior executive language in your communications, you can enhance your organization’s ability to attract, engage, and ultimately hire the rare and exceptional leadership talent that will outperform and deliver on expectations.