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The first steps in training & creating a culture of learning

Two of the most essential initial stages in the employment relationship are job interviews and employment references. Read on to learn more.

David Bernstein
David Bernstein
May 2, 2023
The job interview is one of the most important parts of building a strong employment relationship
The job interview is one of the most important parts of building a strong employment relationship

In my last article, I wrote about training and the importance of creating a culture of learning. When discussing this with a few contacts, I realised that I had jumped over a few steps. Training effectively begins at the start of the employment relationship, in the very first interview. In this article, I will focus on the importance of what I believe to be two of the most fundamental starting points to the employment relationship – interviews and references.

The hiring process is one of the most critical aspects of any organisation's success. A company's ability to attract, retain and develop the right talent is the difference between success and failure. Interviews and references are fundamental elements of this process. Below are best practices and expert opinions on how to interview potential candidates and the importance of studying their references.

Interviews provide employers with an opportunity to evaluate a candidate's qualifications and personality, while references offer valuable insights into a candidate's past performance and work ethic.

The power of interviews

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, believed in the power of interviews to assess a candidate's potential for success in a role. He once said, "There's no right way to interview, but there's a wrong way; not to be prepared." Welch emphasized the importance of being prepared for an interview, knowing what qualities to look for, and asking the right questions to assess a candidate's skills and personality.

The value of references

Jim Collins, a business consultant, and author of "Good to Great," emphasized the value of references in the hiring process. He said, "Hire for character and train for skills." Collins believed that a candidate's work ethic and character were more critical than their skills and experience, and references could provide valuable insights into a candidate's character.

How we do it at Inospace

At Inospace, a company that values a strong hiring process, we employ a multi-step approach. Firstly, our internal recruitment team and line management conduct initial interviews. Followed, ideally, by two senior executive members, including our Chief of People, who then conduct additional interviews. This approach allows for a thorough evaluation of a candidate's qualifications, character, and suitability for the role and the company culture.

The right attitude, coupled with a high potential for growth, are attributes that help make a candidate suited to a role. "Hire the attitude and train the skill" is a mindset we have always believed in at Inospace. This belief is informed by the fact that it’s very rare for "A-team" players to be open in the market, and it's crucial to remember that no employee starts their career with an "A-team skillset". However, many can have the right attitude that allows them to develop into an “A-team player”.

Interviews are only one of the steps, the next critical issue often overlooked is the candidate's references. References provide valuable insights into a candidate's character and work ethic, which are critical factors for success in any role.

Collins said, "If you're not willing to accept that some people are going to have a hard time and you're not willing to invest in those people, you shouldn't hire them in the first place." This highlights the importance of considering a candidate's character and potential for growth when evaluating their suitability for a role. Whilst hiring a candidate with a suitable attitude is important, references will help you understand a potential team member's future behaviour. One of the few predictors of future behaviour is past behaviour.


In conclusion, interviews and references are critical elements of the hiring process that allow organizations to evaluate a candidate's qualifications, personality, and work ethic. As Jack Welch and Jim Collins emphasize, being prepared for interviews and seeking references can provide valuable insights that help organizations find the best candidate for a role. At Inospace, a thorough and multi-step approach to interviews and references ensures that the company finds the right fit for each role and values a candidate's character and potential for growth. Hiring is an investment in the future success of any organization, and taking a strategic approach that includes interviews and references is key to building a strong, motivated, and high-performing team.

In addition to the insights above, we have created an HR Module to help SMEs boost their business efficiency. You can learn more about it here