In five minutes, I can look someone in the eye and figure out if he or she is going to survive and have what it takes to win. Is this someone who has the charisma? Chemistry tells me everything.
It’s amazing how much we’re trained when we’re young to get the best grades, to get into the best schools, to get the highest scores on the SATs, GMATs, whatever test you’ve taken – but your curriculum only teaches how to learn. In order to get the best job, you’ve got to have passion, a winning spirit, a desire to win – and stand out in terms of how you’re going to make a difference. You’ve got to have a soul that exudes a personality beyond numbers.
Unlike most traditional CEOs, I’m not impressed by a résumé that’s loaded with all of the credentials in the world. I don’t assess candidates for a job based on whether they’ve been a valedictorian, graduated summa cum laude, magna cum laude or just plain old cum laude.
I don’t review GPA or go back and scrutinize SAT scores. It doesn’t matter to me whether someone has an Ivy League background or was schooled at a state college. None of that reveals to me if a candidate has what it takes to make it in the real world and to be a part of my organization.
I’m not saying, of course, that education isn’t important. It obviously is. But it’s more of a blend of intellect, cultural fit, personality and core strengths that I’m looking at during the interview process.
What do I seek? What have I found to be the best ways to hire the best people in five minutes?
There are a few essential qualities that I’ve mentioned before that I always evaluate (but let me elaborate).
Maybe it goes without saying, but I want go-getters. I want people who can share a vision, people who are energized. Are they willing to go the extra mile? Are they willing to challenge me and voice their opinions? Do they want to get to the top? Do they want to make a company better than the competition? Are they fearless in their pursuit of excellence?
I want extraordinary people. I think any employer would agree with that statement. First impressions are everything in this world, so during the interview process, I try to gauge as much as possible if they have the discipline, drive and determination to be involved long-term. I don’t hire job-hoppers. No one works 9 to 5 anymore. And if you do, you should stick to the public sector.
People who have a sense of purpose are people who make a difference in the world and in your company. I want to hire people with a sense of purpose. I want to hire fighters. I want to hire people with passion. It’s about taking something simple but showing the outside world how sexy and shiny this object is. I want people who can mesmerize the world.
These are the things that are uppermost in my mind. There are some other key elements, too.
Entrepreneurs should never be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you; people who are the perfect candidates for a particular spot. Remember, I’m a high school dropout. I don’t know everything and don’t plan to. And you should never settle for second best. It once took me two years to find the right person for one senior level position because I wanted to make sure I had the best. I never hired second best, because then I would have lowered the chances of success for the company.
Of course, I also want to make sure that people I’m interviewing fully understand the nature of my business. I want to know what specific talents they bring to the table. What specific contributions will they make and are they willing to challenge their superiors to think differently?
Finding individuals who are talented, driven and passionate is more important to me than checking whether they have letters after their names or honors degrees. Additionally, being a good cultural fit is crucial in any business.
Are they rockstars that will complement our existing rockstars? Doesn’t an orchestra leader want the best violinists, the best cellists, the best percussionists and so forth, because when they all contribute together under his direction, they achieve perfect harmony and stunning results? That’s what you should aspire to create around you: an aura of beautiful music working together.
The bigger a company becomes, the more important it becomes to find people with the right chemistry, the kind of people who helped make you successful in the first place.
You need rockstars who will stimulate and motivate one another and will protect each other’s back and unite against the competition. A company has its own DNA. It needs to be faithfully replicated at all levels throughout an organization. The leader of any company must inspire that DNA so that it spreads and multiplies.
Most important of all, you want to hire people who can faithfully present the true values of you and your company to the outside world. Your employees are a reflection of you and your high standards and ideals. So make sure they’re the best, so your success can become limitless. The byproduct of all this is loyalty. And, to me, that is one trait I value over everything.
As a famous writer once asked: What is success? It’s a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you’ve put in the work and most importantly have a sense of purpose on where you're going.
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