Whatever your business, you need the best people you can get to make your company thrive and grow. However, finding the right people is a big challenge and you need to box clever. It’s not all about the CV, the verdict of an HR system, or the work experience – does the person “fit” into your company culture? What else can they bring to the table?

How do you look beyond the obvious and fix your eyes on the real stars?

Look for hidden potential

You’re looking at the on-paper skills, but what about the personality? Skills can be learned, but an incompatible personality won’t change or improve. You need to look for evidence of social and emotional intelligence and an ability to handle difficult social situations. Look for lots of eye contact during the interview, as well as lots of extra information and openness. Don’t just go straight for the skillset, look at the whole person.

Look at social media pages and profiles

Everyone does background checks and Googles a candidate’s name, but looking through social media profiles can tell you lots about the real person behind the CV. Check out Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at least, so you get a good idea of the person’s sense of humour, ethical and political leanings, and also their relationship with former colleagues and bosses. If they stay in touch with old colleagues, it usually means they’re good to work with.

Ask clever questions

Obviously it’d be great if you could ask, and get an honest answer to: “Are you a nightmare to work with and do you pilfer stationery?”

That’s not going to happen, though, so you have to read between the lines. Ask why the person left their previous job – if they blame their evil ex-boss, then it’s time to look a bit harder. If they say the office relocated and it was too far away, but that they still stay in touch, you may be onto a winner.

Ask open-ended questions like “Why do you like to work?” and “What makes you happiest in your job?” These questions will give you a better idea of what the person’s about.

Put yourself in the hot seat

Any potential employee needs to show a bit of initiative and to find out more about your company, you, and your other employees. It’s actually a two-way process, and by allowing candidates to ask a few questions, you’ll find out more about them, just as they find out if you’re the right employer.

Don’t judge by appearances

It’s not the 1950s any more, and so the odd piercing, tattoo or a quirky dress sense shouldn’t really matter. Think about whether the person can do the job, or can learn to do it, if they’re young.

You may find yourself interviewing school leavers who seem naïve and maybe inarticulate, but they have real ambition and a sense of purpose. Think outside the box every so often.