Added September 11, 2006
If you are interviewing a key manager, and your mission statement clearly has a strong focus on customer satisfaction, you should ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 highest, how important is customer satisfaction to you?” Obviously, their rating should be reasonably close to your mission statement. However, this question in and by itself is not sufficient. You need to probe deeper. Follow up this question by asking, “What strategies have been most effective for you in achieving customer satisfaction?” Their strategies must be consistent with your mission statement and what you expect from your team members.
Whenever you enter into questioning on issues like this, you must be careful. Your inclination, for example in the current discussion, will be to enter into long discussions with the interviewee about customer service. And an interviewee who has been through outplacement has been taught to get you off track and talking as much as possible to lessen the time you have available to ask them questions. If you are committed to your mission statement, it is quite easy to get off track and begin talking about your company, the team members, and your mission and goals. While this is probably enjoyable, it does not help you hire the right people. You are not able to learn about the candidate and you are no longer in discovery mode.
Now, what if you do not have a mission statement? Well, then do not hire anyone. That is not meant to be funny. I truly mean it. If you do not have a mission statement, even if you are a start up company, how do you expect to hire people committed to a mission not even defined yet? When I tell people this they say, “oh, but once we get everyone on board we will write one.” What if you get the wrong people on board? What kind of mission statement will you write? No, you have to have a mission statement. Now, you might make some changes in it when you have a full team, but that is okay. In fact, a start up needs to think exactly that way to be successful.