What does it take to form a great team?

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When hiring, it might be more helpful to give higher consideration for soft skills rather than any specific technology skills.

My role is to grow people from within my team and to hire key external talent to enable us to deliver great projects to solve customer’s problems.  This is a tricky challenge to plan ahead as to what projects we will be working on over the next years, what technologies will those projects need and what functional or business expertise will I need. Ultimately, I need a crystal ball to predict both whether an individual I spent an hour or two interviewing is going to be a good hire and secondly to predict what balance of skills we will need.

Over the 6 and a half years I have been at Capgemini I would guess that I have interviewed over 140 people and freely admit that I am still learning how to identify those stars of tomorrow. I recently tried to analyse the past data and come up with the perfect objective criteria to identify people who thrive and people that do not but admitted defeat. People are complex beasts and are products of their infinitely varied experience.

In working out who to hire I have come to learn to value softer skills such as tenacity, likeability, proof of hard work and passion much more than any specific technology skills as you cannot easily change your personality but you can learn a new piece of software. However, if a person has not bothered to familiarise themselves with new technological developments that betrays a lack of passion.

The big change I have over the last year or two is that LinkedIn is pretty much always used by any candidate to see who is interviewing them and what their background is. In an interview today I offered to introduce myself when the candidate told me there was no need as he already knew my life history! Other than that, interviewing seems to have been the same process for as long as I remember. We have used case studies and mock presentations to simulate client work with some success but I will keep searching for new and interesting ways to unearth the top talent.

What do you think separates the average, good and great and how can you spot this potential in an interview.  Is there another interview technique that could be used to identify those leaders of tomorrow?

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