You are thinking about working with (hiring, partnering or going to work for) someone new. But your reputation and the values you hold are very important to you. You don’t want to get connected to the wrong kind of person. The way people view your character is no small matter, and the relationships you cultivate are a big part of shaping how it is you are known by others. So where do you start? Here’ is an easy 7 point test to gain initial insight into someone’s character. A deeper inquiry will likely be needed, but this is a useful beginning place. It all starts with inviting them to lunch or dinner. As you meet, it should be easy to observe their behavior well enough to answer these 7 questions. 1. Do they show up on time? There are always things that we cannot predict that delay us. If a person is late because he or she ran into one of those, they will offer it with their apology. But if the explanation is something like “Traffic was a bear” or “I got so lost,” this may be a yellow flag. Traffic and directions are easy things to check ahead of time, and to allow time for. If the meeting is important enough, the person will check these out, make allowances and not allow them to cause a delay. 2. Do they greet you warmly? From the moment you meet and begin to engage with the person, are they fully present, or are they checking out the other people in the room or the environment itself. Is the greeting warm and friendly, or hesitant, timid and lacking in energy? A person that is excited about embracing a new opportunity is one that expects something of value to come from it, and will therefore be happy and enthusiastic about meeting you. 3. Are they engaged or distracted? Do they engage you with eye contact and initiate conversation as much as you do? Or do they pull out their phone or tablet and allow their attention to be interrupted or to get sidetracked? Are they looking around the restaurant or café making you feel as though what you have to say is less interesting than getting the wait staff’s attention to refill their water? 4. Is it all first level conversation? First level conversation is what takes place when everything a person says is about their own knowledge or experience, and everything you say is filtered through that. Everything gets turned back to that person. There is no seeking out or interest in your thoughts, your perspective, your knowledge, your experience, your questions, or your ideas, UNLESSS they can be used as a launching pad for their own thoughts, etc. 5. How do they treat the wait staff? Do they smile? Do they speak kindly and respectfully? Do they verbalize their appreciation and thanks? When they have a request, are they humble? When they have a complaint, are they gracious? Or are they demanding, abrupt, cold and aloof? This is a huge one for me, personally. 6. Is there general tone critical or hopeful? As you engage them in conversation, would you say they are more of a fault-finder, or an success-anticipator? Finding fault where it exists is good. But if all talk revolves around faults, this may be hinting at a negative, overly-critical attitude. Optimistic and hopeful people are far more likely to be successful, even when all other factors are equal. 7. Can they balance sharing information with asking questions? Some people are just not interested in what you have to offer. They do not engage in conversations. They hold court. This goes beyond filtering what you have to offer through their own experience as described in # 4. This is not really a conversation at all. You really are needed for nothing more than to sit and listen. The other person is on stage. This may seem like an obvious red flag, but if the person is talented, knowledgeable and entertaining, sometimes our better judgement can get hijacked. Don’t let it happen. Make sure the other person can ask really good questions, and listen to the answers as though they are hoping to learn something of value. The best thing about this test, is that it is simple to do, and to anyone with any kind of discernment, the assessment will be an easy one to make. Be encouraged!