How to Select Reliable People


It’s frustrating being left hanging.

We can tolerate higher prices. We can even accept slightly less quality. But having to deal with unreliable people who waste our precious time?

No way. We’ll simply move on and find someone else.

The problem is, it can sometimes be extremely hard finding a reliable partner for many of our needs. Some professions (such as some estate agents and I’m ashamed to say some recruiters) are notorious for it. Other industries such as insurance and healthcare have extremely high turnover. And even in our personal lives, it can be challenging to find friends that can be relied upon when we really need them.

And so life often becomes a continuous circle of endlessly meeting new people, experiencing disappointment and repeating over and over again.

But there are those magic exceptions.

If we think about the people closest and most dearest to us, often it’s those who we can rely on. Our reliable rocks. Our safe pair of hands. Our trusted associates.

So what makes these people different? How can we try to ensure that in order to meet our needs we select only those people that are reliable?

Here are are some ways to improve our chances of selecting reliable people.

Go granular

In over a decade as a recruiter one thing I can say with confidence is that often it’s the “little things” than can really give insight into how people are likely to perform in the long term.

You see anyone can turn it on in an interview, sales pitch or first-time meeting. Often, we become hugely impressed and excited during initial conversations with others only to slowly become disappointed over time. Relying purely on who is more able to “convince us” the most can often be the wrong strategy.

But true reliability penetrates everything. The most reliable people are those who take pride in going the extra mile as much as possible. They always turn up early. They do their best to always make deadlines. And they take pride in their track record of keeping others happy – rather than purely focussing on what they can do in the future. That’s why sometimes the best way to assess reliability is not just by focussing on a specific area or taking someone’s word for it – but to also see how people approach others aspects of their life.

Reliable people don’t just turn it on when they have to. They can be relied upon at all times.

Reliability is a habit.

Challenge them during selection

All of us can do things that are easy. But what usually differentiates the highest performers from the rest, is that they’re still prepared to get stuck-in when the going gets tough or complicated.

Often, what we really want in terms of reliability is the support of others when we need them most. Those who are prepared to go the extra mile even if it’s unexpected.

The customer service rep who takes the extra time to explain how to fix a problem. The company that is willing to do what it takes to keep the customer happy rather than stick to the small print. The friend who travels across the country to be with you when you really need them most.

The most reliable people stand up even during the most challenging times. Rather than see adversity or extra effort as an excuse to give up, they are driven first and foremost by serving others. When selecting partners that you need to be reliable, it’s often a good idea to challenge them during the selection process and see how they respond.

Those who step-up demonstrate a trait that can be priceless.

Reliable people don’t give up easily.

Incentivize reliability

The business world can often be contradicting.

Shareholders, management and employees often crave reliable results but at the same time rarely reward people for their reliability. The accolades and highest incentives often go to other types of people – the years most successful salesperson, the best innovator or the manager who delivers the greatest margins.

Being reliable isn’t considered particularly glamourous. The most-reliable-person-of-the-year award is unlikely to get most employees excited. Although we all crave it, when we do eventually find it we almost take it for granted.

However the best leaders understand that reliability is a two way street. As humans, we have a fundamental nature to reciprocate – once we find the rare gems that can serve us reliably, it’s essential to reward them for their actions. That’s why many successful companies reward employees for long periods of service or consistent attendance – although it sounds simple, it’s something very few people are able to do.

Reliability needs to be rewarded.


We all want to be around reliable people.

It’s the only way to grow and achieve more.

Successful people in any walk of life understand that partnering with people who are reliable and dependable is an essential requirement to getting results.

How do you select reliable people?

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