Right at the end of last year, I was called by a client from over 20 years ago. By coincidence, he was also married to one of the best people I have ever worked with, Ros. He reminded me that it had been ten years since she had passed away.
Ros was our bookkeeper for over 15 years and would still be with us now if she had survived. But when I interviewed her, I didn’t really like her. She was interviewed in the early days of Vinehouse, and though our process wasn’t what it is now, there was still quite a lot to it.
I found Ros to be a bit annoying; she was a nitpicker. But, if you know much about bookkeeping, you’ll know that this is a key attribute of a good bookkeeper. Ros was able to spot a typo at 100 paces. She would let me know whenever I had made a mistake, which I admit I didn’t really enjoy. But over the years, I grew to value this great skill.
Ros was reliable and thorough, always spotting issues and coming up with suggestions for improvement. It wasn’t always pleasant learning that you’d made a stupid mistake or being reminded of things you had promised to deliver but hadn’t. But by taking on these tasks, she was responsible for many improvements in the company. We got used to it and realised how valuable this skill was.
Ros did far more for us than just being our bookkeeper – this was part of her love of solving problems. She just loved to help and did it in a very organised way.
Ros was also tenacious and saw things through till the end, which is why she was still working for us from her hospital bed a month before we lost her.
Looking back now, I understand that the reason I didn’t like Ros when I first interviewed her was because of my failings, not hers, and I’m really glad I took the risk of working with someone I thought I might not get on with. I benefitted a great deal from working with her, and so did the company. We still remember her and are still benefitting from the work she did.
So next time you find you don’t like a candidate, ask yourself what you don’t like before dismissing them; it could be a great opportunity.
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