Can you do that new job?

Generally when evaluating someone for a role, I look for 5 things:

  1. Behaviours – how do they operate in a team? Do they admit to mistakes and learn from them? Do they help others? Communicate and live to their personal values? Are those values ones I want people in the team to live to?
  2. Accountability – can this person handle the magnitude of the role? Are they able to manage stakeholders of the right level of seniority?
  3. Domain – how deep is their knowledge of this business, industry, sector etc.? And how deep does it need to be?
  4. Function – what is their level of skill in this type of role? For example, if hiring a business analyst, how good a business analyst are they?
  5. Organisation – perhaps summarised as “knowing how things are done around here” – processes, culture etc. – does this person have the knowledge to make things happen?

Obviously, number 1 is a given – no one wants a brilliant jerk on the team. But most people have some of each of the others. The question is whether it’s enough to set them up for success in the new role. Usually, I’d expect someone to have strength in 1 or 2 of the others, and to have one or at most two which give headroom to grow as:

  • No headroom in role = boring job
  • Too many development areas = set up for failure

When a candidate is moving roles internally, they probably have number 5. So a step up to greater accountability, or moving to an entirely new business domain (if the company is big enough) might represent a solid plan. Doing both at once is probably too much for most people.

External candidates probably don’t possess organisational knowledge, so we should assume that’s a growth area. And that means they need to be fairly strong in two of the other areas. In my experience, people usually move company to step up. So i would expect external candidates to have strong domain knowledge and functional skill.