What You Will Learn…

  1. The most important factors in hiring someone
  2. A model to determine how close of a match a candidate has to be to the job requirements in order to be successful

Interview Learnings from the Experts

I have been conducting interviews with great managers for a few months now. During that time, I’ve talked to senior managers, directors, senior directors, and VPs. It has been a great learning experience for me, and one that I would like to start sharing with you.

After talking to my son, Anthony during our regular gym workouts, I decided to focus on the responses that I have received to the question related to hiring. Here is the question.

What is the most important factor you consider when hiring someone?

The responses have been very consistent. Across the board, the experts were not focused on the skills needed for the job. They were instead focused on energy, excitement, passion, and willingness to learn as the most important factors in their hiring decisions.  Here are a few quotes.

It comes down to attitude, passion, and energy. … is there the right level of enthusiasm.

Kieran Desmond

One thing that comes out very strikingly different for any new hire is their attitude.

Santosh Pandey

Willingness to learn and the passion to learn.

Ajay Sabhlok

It’s important to note that these responses assumed the candidates that they were interviewing had the core job qualifications. The screening process ensured this. As a result, the managers were focused on identifying the right candidate from this pre-qualified pool of applicants.

But interestingly not everyone assumed the candidate had to be fully qualified for the job.

Looking back over years of hiring people into the support organization. We brought in some people who maybe didn’t have the right skills, but we were thinking ‘We have got to take a chance on this person’ because they had the right attitude.

Kieran Desmond

This made me stop and think – are we looking at the hiring process in the right way? How important is it really… to have the right skills for the job?  If you have the energy, excitement, passion, and willingness to learn, is that enough to be successful?

Before answering this question, let me start with a model for determining if a candidate is a good fit for the job.

A Model for Candidate Job Fit

During that same gym discussion, Anthony shared a model that really resonated with me. He and his boss had just discussed this very topic. Here is the model that settled on to determine if a candidate is close enough to the job requirements to be successful.

The model.

  1. A candidate cannot be more than one degree away from the job requirements on any dimension.
  2. A candidate cannot be one degree away from the job requirement in more than two dimensions.

Dimension is defined as an aspect or feature of a job.

  • A role, such as a developer, program manager, or salesman.
  • The technology area, such as storage or networking.

Degree is defined as a unit of measurement.

  • Zero degrees away is when the candidate is a product manager and the job is for a product manager.
  • One degree away is when the candidate develops on-premise platform software and the job is for cloud-based platform software.
  • More than two degrees away is when the candidate develops software and the job is selling software.

Applying the model.

When you are looking at a candidate for a job, you want to make sure that they meet the job requirements. The way we do this is to determine if they are close enough. The model defines what close means. If you are close enough, you should be considered for the job.

But the model leaves out the key learnings from the experts about the most important factor when hiring someone. Here are two possible ways to extend the model to include this.

  • If you find that they have the energy, excitement, passion, and willingness to learn – then maybe it is ok to be two degrees off in one of the dimensions.
  • Or maybe you have to come with energy, excitement, passion, and the willingness to learn to be off by any degree in any dimension.

I strongly prefer the second. I think that the model must assume you have the energy, excitement, passion, and willingness to learn. If not, move on to the next candidate.
Example: Hired into the Wrong JobExample: Hired with Great Success

Closing Thoughts

The most important factors in hiring someone are energy, excitement, passion, and the willingness to learn. You need to take this as a given. If you don’t find these factors – you should keep looking.

The big question that we all struggle with is – how perfectly does the candidate match the dimensions of the job?

I recommend that you use the above model to determine this. I have found that some of my very best hires were off by a degree in one or two dimensions. 

Why is that?

I believe it is because the energy, excitement, passion, and willingness to learn are strongest when the job brings with it something new – along one or more dimensions.

What do you think?

See Also

Ajay Sabhlok – Amazing Experiences on His Path to IT Executive

Silvana Torik – Amazing Journey with Work-Life Balance and Giving Back

My Take on “The Best Mentors Ask These 8 Questions”

Categories: People


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