You’ve had a vision of the future, built a business, launched a product or climbed a corporate ladder of some kind, and now find yourself with new power and responsibility—hiring a team (or adding to it).
For those that are new to the hiring game and for seasoned vets alike, the gravity of the situation can be overwhelming. While it’s easy for most entrepreneurs or successful people to ask questions that suss out an applicant’s skills, experiences and general cognitive abilities, asking questions that find the right people to share in your inevitable success can prove more difficult. Who are the right people? I suggest that they are the ones you like.
Two immediate potential reactions worthy of clarification:
- This seems intuitive and I’m skipping to the listicle style-tips at the end…
- I thought we weren’t supposed to hire people like us?!
First, the hiring process it is intuitive. Skip ahead if you so choose, but know this—many, many organizations I come across are full of people that aren’t liked by the person who hired them. This is nuts, but it happens, and I hear about it all the time.
Second, I’m not saying hire people like you (that’s a terrible idea)—I suggest hiring people you like. Get the difference? I’ve hired thousands of people, most of whom are nothing like me. In fact, I very purposefully look for people with different backgrounds from different parts of the country (and world) with varied work experiences with whom we can build a diverse and multi-faceted perspective. However, if I don’t like someone, I don’t hire them. Simple as that.
Characteristics that are easy to pick up on that I like:
- Affable and easy-going
- Quick-witted and/or funny
- Happy (smiling is a decent proxy for happiness)
- Prepared, punctual, and poised
- Intriguing in some way (style, mannerisms, accent, euphemisms, vocabulary, etc.)
- Situational awareness
Characteristics that are easy to pick up on that I don’t like:
- Cocky or flat-out dishonest
- Rigid (in thought, appearance, perspective, or speech)
Like a first date or social interaction, these don’t need to be written down, but everybody knows what good and bad dates feel like intuitively. Use a similar barometer for how that interview went. Here’s why I think it’s worth hiring people that pass the above test for you:
- You’ll work harder to develop people you like
- You’ll give up on someone faster if you don’t like the fact that they are late all the time, your pen always ends up on their desk, they chew really loud, insert another pet peeve here, etc.
- You’ll respect them faster and give them latitude
- People tend to rise or sink to the expectations you have for them
- They’ll feel appreciated and work to reciprocate (with you and others)
- Gratitude and entitlement can’t coexist—you’ll create a culture of one or the other whether you’re trying to or not
- You won’t dread the long hours
- Building a business with people you enjoy is so much better than the alternative
All of this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t reference check, ask tough questions, conduct exhaustive searches for the best candidates and be rigid with your standards for excellence. All I’m saying is if you want to spend late nights hashing out big challenges and opportunities with your management team, develop young talents into world-class bad-asses, and curate a culture of respect and admiration for your peers, you have to like the people around you.