How to choose the right person for your team

16 Jan 2020 5 min read
The article was initially published on Medium and is authored by Oana Elena Florea, Customer Support Manager

Top warning signs to consider before saying “Yes” to a new hire.

Hiring the “right person for the job” is a skill you learn and possibly perfect over the years. It’s a sum of many factors like instinct, past mistakes that turn to lessons learned and a constant drive to improve yourself. I’ve spent now more than 10 years working at XWiki first as a front-end developer and later as a manager. During this period I had the opportunity to hold interviews for many different job descriptions both technical and less technical.

Most of the time we managed to identify a less good candidate during the interview phase, however a few times we did send the final offer. Every time I felt things should have been done differently, I took a moment to analyze if there were any warning signs I missed. Or if the following checklist should be updated.

Not being fully inline with the company values

At XWiki, we have an open company culture. Every employee has a voice and we encourage everyone to improve our processes, offer feedback for our product lines or challenge the status quo.

We have had very skilled technical candidates that were not comfortable with this mindset and despite efforts on both sides, we were not able to continue the journey together.

Same skills as existing team members

It’s very tempting to hire someone with a similar skill or mindset, during the interview you constantly have the feeling working with them will be effortless. However, having someone with complementary skills to the current team members’ would offer a fresh new perspective and potentially bring ideas outside of “your box”. As a manager, it’s important to also expand instead of constantly confirm your team’s skillset and favor innovation over easy integration.

Asking for a lower salary compared to their experience or job market value

A warning sign for future negotiations regarding compensation. Usually, people ask for a lower salary because they really want the job at that point in time, not necessarily because they feel comfortable with the amount they agree on. They might want to escape their current job or try a different job description. If things go well, as a manager you should expect a request for alignment to the market value after the first year.


Tells from past employers cannot all be bad. When no good stories emerge during the interview regarding past employers, there might be a case for negativity as a “core feature”. Someone with a persistent dim perspective on life often turns up to be the next toxic team member nobody wants to have.

Not a big fan of knowledge sharing

It’s not enough to identify or communicate about the lack of knowledge management for a project, missing documentation inside a procedure or the need for internal training. Sharing the know-how one has acquired over the years and transfer this knowledge as a mentor or on a plain internal knowledge base entry is not easy. As individuals, we tend to be protective of the things we spent a long time acquiring, knowledge including, or at some point be dominated by the fear of being easily replaced.

Switching jobs way too often

A clear sign that something is wrong at some level. Could be a lot of factors good or bad (integration issues, work-life balance, a need to try something new, etc) and the interview phase is the right time, to be honest, and speak up about the “elephant in the room”. Sometimes it’s worth to take the risk and send the offer when the team is understaffed temporarily or missing a critical skill which can afterward be transferred through mentorship or building a knowledge base.

We should always have in mind there is no perfect answer and constantly look back to analyze what could have been done better.

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