Over the past 10 years or so, my career has shifted to focus more on managing teams and operations, and a good chunk of my time has been spent on interviewing and hiring. I’ve probably interviewed thousands of people in that time, and I definitely have a good feel for folks fairly quickly in the process. While roles vary and the qualifications for them can be very different, for me it really comes down to a handful of things that I look for and after thinking about it for some time, these 5 things are definitely at the top of my list.
1. You can work with anybody. I learned this the hard way at my time at Microsoft. There were so many people of various ethnic, professional and personality backgrounds, that you had no choice but to learn how to adapt and find ways to work with a variety of different people. Regardless of where you are at in your career, you should take it upon yourself to really focus and study what makes different people tick, and use that to your advantage. Everyone operates and communicates in different ways, and the more you can observe and figure out how to maximize your professional relationships, you’re going to go a lot farther a lot faster. One trick I’ve always used in meetings, is that when the meeting starts, I make a map of the table and those seated there. I’ll write down all their names, and a few notes about each person on the fly. That allows me to better be prepared to participate in the meeting in a more personable way, and help me remember something about everyone in the room.
2. You’re a self starter. On my teams, not being this is a deal breaker. I want people who are drivers. People who need little direction and hand holding, and can take problems and solve them independently. Critical thinkers who can work through challenges on their own, yet know when to reach out for help or assistance to ensure the job gets done as best it can. People who aren’t afraid to take risks, and own the successes and failures that come with it. I love working with people that actually have other passion projects or entrepreneurial projects on the side. They are usually clear signs of folks that are true self starters.
3. Confidence. Not to be mistaken with arrogance. There’s a fine line between both. I want to be surrounded by people that are confident in their abilities, their knowledge, and are able to convey that in group settings. People that can own a room, but also be able to demonstrate humility when you may not know everything. You don’t have to be a know it all to be confident.
4. You write and speak well. No matter what you do or where you work, there’s always a need for people that can write really well. Whether it’s well crafted emails, blog posts, or any sort of copy, talented writers are always in high demand. And I’m not talking about perfect grammar and spelling. Folks that are great story tellers, can educate, entertain, inspire through their writing. These skills can translate in so many different ways, and it’s usually a good sign of a person being intelligent, well-spoken, and able to communicate effectively with a wide range of people.
5. Helping others is always a priority for you. If you’re the kind of person that naturally and authentically looks out for others, is helpful, and genuinely wants to assist others, you’re going to have a place on my team, and many others in your future. This way of thinking/living really can’t be taught. You either are, or you aren’t. I’m a huge advocate for making hiring decisions based on untrainable/unteachable traits. We can always train folks on tactical facets of the job, but having a helpful attitude is just something you don’t learn.
So if you or someone you know is looking and hits on these 5 marks, send them my way. We’re always looking for the very best.