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How to Choose People to Hire

By Shlomo Maital


   Hiring people for either a startup or established company is one of the most crucial decisions senior managers make. And in my experience, many mistakes are made.

   Whom should you hire? How should you hire? David Brooks writes about it in his New York Times column today, “the employer’s creed”.  

   Here are some of his rules, and I’ve added a few of my own.

   Avoid people with “a high talent for social conformity”. You want to have people to tell you what you DON’T want to hear, not what you do want to hear. There are enough of the latter already.

   Don’t favor people with high GPA’s.  I’ve found that the grade-grubbers (hey, I WAS one once, damaged my brain permanently) are not the creative mavericks you want to hire.

   Reward honesty.  Choose people who write honest applications, rather than sugar-coated ones with chocolate icing. You want honesty above all. Beware of the liars, even little white lies.

   Hire infected people – evangelists. This comes from Guy Kawasaki, the Macintosh guru. He was a psychology grad, jewellery business person, no tech experience – and he made the Mac a big success. Why? Because he was ‘infected’, an evangelist (in Greek – someone who brings the good news). Hire people who share your passion, not those looking to flip their options. 

   Hire diverse people. If you have a diverse workforce, you are more likely to get good ideas. Your range of people, their personalities, skills, passions, need to be wide, so that you can do ‘zoom out’ on new ideas far wider and better.

   Invest a lot of time and effort in hiring. I know a CEO of a Canadian company, who hangs out with potential management hires for a whole day, lunches with them, plays squash with them…   to get to know them. That will save you a whole lot of trouble in the future. If you make a bad hire, by the time you realize it much damage may have happened.

   Never ever abandon hiring solely to your HR people. They hire according to the book they learned in college. Sometimes, when you hire, you need to throw the book away. Make hiring your own key responsibility.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital