Interviewing and choosing service professionals (lawyers, bookkeepers, etc.) for your business should involve assessing the personal characteristics, as well as their competence.
In part 1 of this topic on how to choose service professionals, we discovered that, basically, you want to hire someone competent. Confidence is nice, a sharp dresser is nice, but what really matters when getting things done is that the person be able to do them. Sounds obvious, right? If only.
But making sure your bookkeeper knows how to bookkeep, your plumber knows how to plumb, and your lawyer knows how to…well, law isn’t the whole story. When you hire people, you’re not just hiring individual collections of skills, you’re hiring a team. That requires people skills.>
People Skills / Chemistry
You will need to get along well enough with the people you hire to get the job done. If someone seems like a good candidate, shift the conversation from their work competence to the process of how they work with people. Ask questions like
Tell me about the best relationship you ever had with a boss. What made it work?
What’s the most important thing I should know about working with you?
How would you best like to work together?
Also share your answers to the questions. You need to know enough about each other so you work together smoothly. For example, anyone I share a physical space with needs to know that I’m rather, er, organized about my pens. I have a navy blue Pilot G–2 07 gel ink pen, a blue ballpoint pen, a black G-Tec-C .18mm pen, and a .5mm mechanical pencil for a reason. And it is not OK if an office mate “borrows” one and forget to put it back where it belongs. (Calm down, Stever.)
Irrational? I don’t think so. But if so, good! You’re now interviewing for personal chemistry. You know from your competence conversation that the rational relationship will work. Now you’re making sure you’re irrationally compatible, too.
Besides, my bookkeeper of 15 years also carries three pens and a pencil. Golly, I love that guy.