Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it's personality.
—Richard Branson in “Hiring the right people”
Sir Richard Branson’s insights are simple: most people can quickly master their role within a company, but if they lack the right social skills they won’t become engaged team players. The quality of an employee’s interpersonal skills have a high pay off because their skills are transferable, and if they click with your team they will get involved in a wide array of projects. For Branson, it’s all about a candidate’s ability to be adaptive—not always about how technical their skills are.
People who are passionate about and good at what they do tend to also be pretty good at cutting to the chase.
Aline Lerner in “Lessons from a year’s worth of hiring data”
Aline Lerner does a wonderful job of analyzing and critiquing what she calls “prevalent folk wisdom about hiring.” By looking at the numbers, she demystifies common assumptions concerning pedigree, gut feel insights, and other traditional indicators used by many hiring managers. Aiming to debunk myths about the hiring process, Lerner concludes that candidates will present their skills, knowledge, and interests with simple passion rather than providing puzzling explanations rooted in dry head terms and technical jargon. Look for candidates that can easily explain their skills with pithy vigor and not labyrinthine statements.
You need to have a collaborative hiring process.
—Steve Jobs from Steve Jobs
Since the beginning of companies, hiring managers have worked hard at devising relevant hiring techniques to find the best people. Every company has hiring methods tailored to their industry and company culture—and some of these standards have been established for decades. Jobs urges for a hiring process that’s streamlined via effective communication. Having a company culture that places emphasis on rich communication and open dialogues should obviously extend to recruiters. If recruiters can establish (and easily articulate) their goals, frameworks, and evaluations—they’ll be on the same page conceptually and, perhaps more importantly, they can work together to allow their process evolve over time.
When you hire people that are smarter than you are, you prove that you are smarter than they are.
—R.H. Grant (Canadian politician)
Robert Henry was a turn of the century politician who let his simple farming roots dictate his folk insights. Recruiters shouldn’t shy away from acquiring bright people who may, at times, be a little bit too intellectual. Understanding how a person’s intelligence will impact your workforce requires some impressive contextual knowledge from a hiring manager. If they can pull it off (this may take years of experience) it doesn’t matter who’s smarter at the end of the day (all that matters is how well a recruiter can navigate a person’s intelligence to see if they’re a great fit).
Great vision without great people is irrelevant.
—Jim Collins in Good to Great
You can create one of the most impressive conceptual business plans, or build a miraculous piece of revolutionary technology, that has the potential to disrupt an established market (making big bucks in the process), but without a rock star team don’t get too excited. Finding technical talent, and great workers in general, is a messy and convoluted process. If you cannot create a diverse team chock-full of experiential knowledge that leads to adaptive and inventive change—you won’t go very far.
If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become a mediocre company.
—Steve Wynn (American business magnate)
Wynn is on the same page as Jim Collins. Bill Gates has also communicated similar sentiments when asked how Microsoft continues to be a powerful influencer. Getting back to your team’s experiential knowledge, once you have a creative workforce supported by experience you can expect some wonderful results. If your teams are communicating effectively, and thinking critically, chances are they’re going to work together to come up with extraordinary insights and ideas.
Find ballplayers, not those who look good in baseball caps.
—Tom Monahan (Chairman and CEO at CEB)
Monahan is clearly pointing toward an inherent byproduct of the hiring process that has more to do with socio-cultural biases that everyone possesses: we tend to favor people who share our interests or “look the part.” I can’t think of an industry more impacted by the latter flaw than Hollywood; how many times do you think actors and actresses get a part because of looks rather than talent or knowledge of the craft? What matters more is what they can do, not what their appearance suggests they can do.