How Do You Hire?

From the Corner Office Column in the New York Times

Each Sunday, the New York Times interviews an executive about their background. One of the questions that is almost always asked is, “How do you hire?” I love reading the responses and always learn something new. These tips come from people who do a lot of hiring and offer some insights into how to prepare for an interview. Consider these ideas as you interview for the next position at your organization:

Jake Wobbrock, founding chief executive and chief scientist of AnswerDash, a provider of automated customer service for websites says, “ I start with the three ‘A’s—aptitude, attitude and appetite. Start-ups are tough and an optimistic attitude is really important. I want to hear stories about how they respond in difficult situations. Appetite is often overlooked. How hungry do they really seem for this opportunity?”

Lori Dickerson Fouche, CEO, Prudential Group Insurance says, “I want to know that people have done their due diligence on the company, and that they have a passion for wanting to work at our company. I want them to care enough to have done their research to make sure there’s also a good cultural fit. So, I’ll ask, ‘what kind of cultures do you like to work in? Where do you excel?’ I also look for resilience and perseverance.”

Kevin E. Lofton, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives says “I start with the ‘why’—why are you here; why would this role fit into your career path; and why are you interested in coming to our organization? I then focus on the ‘what’—what are the things that you’ve done that relate to what you might do here, and what are your ideas for how you can help us? And, then I move to the ‘how’, and that’s where character comes in.”

Jim Dolce, Chief executive of Lookout, a mobile security firm says, “I like to turn the conversation around and do an ‘ask me anything’ kind of exercise. What do you want to know about the company? I will tell you anything you want to know. That gets a bunch of discussion threads going. It tells me what you’re looking for. I can figure out what your interests are and what they’re not. And, just by the nature of the questions you ask, I can tell whether you’ve done your homework on the company and the industry, and whether you have a genuine interest in working here. If you’re going to make a decision to spend the next four or five years of your life working here, you’d better be inquisitive and have a lot of questions about us.”

Jonathan M. Tisch, C-chairman of the Board of Lowes Corporation and chairman of Lowes Hotels and Resorts says “You have to have a gene for hospitality, and I want to see that you have the ability to be creative. It doesn’t matter what role you’re in, you have to be creative in how you look at the challenges you face. And I want people who know how to listen. You can learn a lot with your mouth shut.”

Hopefully, these insights into how successful people hire can help whether you’re an applicant or a hiring manager.


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