How to Hire Great People

 

“If you hire only those people you understand, the company will never get people better than you are. Always remember that you often find outstanding people among those you don’t particularly like.” – Soichiro Honda

AS, a friend and colleague, is a master of good hiring. His first hire — an entry-level marketing assistant — has bloomed into a world-class marketing pro who is already running his business for him. The two of them hired a second, who is also superb and helped them double the business in one year. Now, the staff consists of four people, and they are doing the business it would normally take eight people to do.

It’s not easy to hire good people, but it’s well worth the time and effort that it takes. Here are the four most important things I’ve learned about how to do it:

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1. Make the commitment. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. You can’t expect to hire great people if you spend just a few hours working on it. I don’t like interviewing, and I’m always impatient to hire the first decent person who comes along. That’s a deadly combination.

2. Look for the right things. Intelligence is important, but I’d list it third on my list of things to look for. I agree with Jeffrey J. Fox in his book “How to Become a Great Boss” that the two most important things to look for are attitude and aptitude.

3. Flee flaws. Generally speaking, you’ll see a job candidate at his best when you interview him. If you notice something that seems “wrong,” don’t ignore it — especially if it concerns qualities that are important for the job. When it comes to interviewing, I’ve found that personal quirks are like the tip of an iceberg — what you see on the surface is a very small part of what you will have to deal with later.

4. Don’t worry too much about specific experience. Of all the qualities that are important to look for in finding a great employee, specific experience is not very high on my list. Yes, it’s good to know that the person you hire can do the technical work from day one — but on day seven or day 14 you’ll wish you had opted for the better, though perhaps untried and unproven, prospect.

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