You Can Work with Everyone. The Real Question is How?

You Can Work with Everyone. The Real Question is How?

As a potential employer, you shouldn’t wander into an interview wondering whether you can work with someone. I am sure that you (and your colleagues) are accommodating enough to be able to work with most people. You “can” work with them.

The real question is “how” you will work with them.

In a world where recruiting and retaining quality people is paramount, it is not enough to recognise someone’s talent and match it with your opportunity. You have to assess the relationship from both sides and on multiple levels. For you to understand whether they fit into your team, you have to be honest about what it is like to work within your team before you can seek to tease out whether they have what it takes.

And it has to ring true for them as much as it does for you.

Too many interview scenarios focus on whether someone can fit rather than how they would fit. Questions are aimed at weeding out potential hopefuls rather than giving them the chance to shine. This interview process of attrition always puts a candidate on the back foot, and they are rarely brave enough to give the left-field explorative answers that might hint at deeper potential connections.

No one ever won a one-day cricket match by playing with a straight bat.

You have to ask the difficult questions to get the nuanced answers.

When I interview candidates for a role, I am always seeking to compose a picture in my mind of how they fit. When I talk to my clients about them, I am not telling them about what they can do, I am telling them about how they will make an impact. Of course, there will be candidates who won’t be suitable in the first place, but I would hope that I am honest enough to only chat with those who are.


The rise of technology in recruitment will contribute to recruiters being able to do this to a much greater extent. When A.I. software is doing much of the basic search and selection work, human recruiters will have the time and headspace to focus on the “how” question. For me, this is by far the most enjoyable part of my job. By nature, we are a complicated lot, and when a candidate’s livelihood is on the line, you would hope that a recruiter would want to understand that complexity as intimately as possible.

So, when the question arises of whether someone is “good” for a role, that notion of “good” is very much in the eye of the beholder, and it is up to them to explore the “how” of any potential relationship. If they do not do that, then there is always the potential for downside surprises along the line.

Ticking technical boxes is not enough – you have to get down and dirty into the essence of someone’s soul before you understand whether they would flourish with you (and whether you would flourish with them).

Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury

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