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I had the experience years ago of engaging a bookkeeper who did exceptionally well in my skills test. However, in those days, I didn’t interview particularly well. I felt very uncomfortable when asking probing questions which made the candidate squirm.  During the interview I asked about her last job and, in a throw-away line she said something like “we used to have team meetings each week which were such a waste of time because they would go on about missions and visions and working together”.

When she said that I felt a twinge in my stomach because I spent a great deal of time creating my own mission and vision statements and developing a team of passionate and loyal bookkeepers. And it sounded like she didn’t value that.  But because I was inexperienced at interviewing I chose to ignore it rather than ask her to explain the comment. In other words, I only heard what I wanted to hear.

What happened after that was that she undermined everything I said. I spoke about open and honest communication and she would grumble about me behind my back. Turned out she actually hated bookkeeping because she felt it was below her. Because of that she lacked attention to detail and didn’t follow instructions. She let my clients down and some of them left.

I thought she would change when I addressed the issues but she didn’t. She wasn’t passionate and proud about the role she played on my team and, although she said all the right things, her actions spoke louder than her words.

I persisted with her for too long which damaged my reputation. However, if I paid attention to what I noticed when I interviewed her I wouldn’t have employed her in the first place. I mentioned last week about the fact that you have all the information you need in the very first appointment. And that’s true for when you are choosing clients or a new member of your team.