6 points on how to not hire your reflection

How well do we know what talent “looks” like when looking to hire?

I recently wrote how ‘like attracts like’ (link). Companies say one thing–”We need more diversity”–but often do another when hiring.

Organisations are composed of people; we’re all full of contradictions, and the unpredictability of who gets hired isn’t always surprising.

Yet surrounding oneself with similar types is meinesgleichen, seldom making a group-or company-stronger.

Corporate Diversity is not about hiring people who don’t look nor sound like you. It is looking for those with new perspectives, attitudes, a willingness and experience which enhances the attitudes of others. Hiring with the ‘People like us’ perspective is like washing your dishes in the same dishwater, and honey, dirty water gonna make you ill..

A very partial list of hiring for balance and momentum:

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  • High energy level is NOT the domain of younger candidates. Energy level is proportional to curiosity and personality. One hires for character, not youth nor gray hair. Always assess for energy of character.
  • Look for those who can take the heat–not from a tyrannical boss, but who produce under multiple deadlines, and tell you how they’ve done it.
  • Sound reasons for career moves. For example, leaving a company on not-so-good terms doesn’t make one a troublemaker. But someone who has worked 4 jobs for 11 months each time has issues. What’s their work pattern, good or bad, but find out.
  • Confident without being arrogant? Comfortable in their own skin? Prepared enough to articulate when they’re in their work “zone”? Self-aware enough to know what they’re good at, and not dwell on their gaps–we all have ’em. No one hires on what a candidate cannot do.
  • How do they interact with those a few levels below? With a sense of privilege or of gratitude? I’ve often proposed to my clients to have candidates interview with support staff, not only superiors. The staff is likely to be a harder interview, assessing a future boss not on niceness, but whether the boss can impart knowledge and allow them to grow.What better way to start a new job than with those-above and below-who want you on-board rather than the usual muted nervousness..
  • Do they know about the world around them? My bias, perhaps, but it’s hard for me to think of hiring a senior executive who’s got blinders on and blissfully unaware of the world. Don’t need a renaissance person or someone an inch high and mile wide, but able to engage outside of their area of expertise (back to the curiosity factor..)
  • [/list]

    All of these are character. Functionally strong, with strong backbone, thick skin, eyes wide open and big ears. Not Velociraptor, but having the ability to run fast–and a set of claws–won’t hurt you, either.


    Written by Neal Horwitz, MD of Henry Hale Maguire

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