The Kind of Person Companies Look to Hire

This post is a follow up to last Friday’s class on January 16, 2015 on ‘job interviewing’.

Complementing your job interviewing strategy and skills should be an awareness of what some company leaders look for in their employees.

Here are the comments of three corporate leaders on their hiring process.   Each corporate leader quoted in the following interviews is a woman.  Each interview is from the Sunday New York TimesCorner Office” column in the Business section of the newspaper.

The first comment is from comment from an interview with Kristin Muhlner, chief executive of NewBrand Analytics, a social-media-monitoring company.

Question:  “How do you hire?

Kristin’s Answer:   “There are two questions I often ask people that I think get at the heart of who they are. First,

I ask them what their passion is.

I can get a good sense of who they are, and it helps me understand how they’re going to fit culturally in the organization. I also always ask people, “What will your company think when you tell them you’re leaving?” It can help you get at other aspects of the person — how they work with others and how they’re perceived.”

Here’s the link to the entire interview if you’re interested.

The second comment is from an interview with Anne Williams-Isom, chief executive of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit antipoverty organization.

Question:  “How do you hire?”

Anne’s Answer:  “At the Harlem Children’s Zone,

it’s not just about being smart and talented. It’s about doing whatever it takes, never stopping, and going the extra mile.

So I try to get a sense of what’s important to people. Do they like to just give orders, or do they like to get their hands dirty and to solve problems? If I see something on the floor, I’m going to pick it up. If there’s ice on the walks in front of the building, I’m going to get a shovel and take care of it.

Self-awareness is a huge thing for me. It’s not that flaws are a problem. I think people’s flaws, and how they try to work through them, are what makes them interesting. But you have to be aware that you have the flaws. And it’s not so much about me asking, “What do you think your weaknesses are?” It’s about figuring out what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how you managed through them.”

The final comment is from an interview with Marla Malcolm Beck, chief executive of Bluemercury, a beauty products and spa services retailer.

Question: “How do you hire?”

Marla’s Answer:  “I’m the queen of the seven-minute interview. I interview for only seven to 10 minutes, and I have a framework — it’s skill, will and fit. In about two minutes, I can ascertain skill, just based on what they’ve done. I’ll ask, “What’s the biggest impact you had at your past organization?” It’s important that someone takes ownership of a project that they did, and you can tell based on how they talk about it whether they did it or whether it was just something that was going on at the organization.

Will is about hunger, so I’ll ask, “What do you want to do in five or 10 years?” That tells you a lot about their aspirations and creativity.

If you’re hungry to get somewhere, that means you want to learn. And if you want to learn, you can do any job.

In terms of fit, I’m looking for people who have some sort of experience with a smaller company. At big companies, your job is really one little piece of the pie. I need someone who can make things happen and is comfortable with ambiguity.”

Question:  “What advice do you give to graduating college students?”

Marla’s Answer:  “The best advice I heard when I was in college was “Be an expert at something.” So bring an expertise or skill set into an organization, or be the expert at something that nobody else is doing. The second thing I would say is “Go into tech.”

If you look at all the skill sets companies need, they involve a comfort level with technology.

I would also tell students that nobody ends up in the first job they choose out of college, so just find something that is interesting to you, because you tend to excel at things you’re interested in. But just go do it. You have nothing to lose.”

If you want to follow up for additional information about any of these comments, feel free to ask me or any of your mentors.  This is why these people and myself are in your network as long as always say ‘thank you’.   As Lou Mercado, a Vice President of Inventory Management at CVS Health, told us two weeks ago,

“an effective network is one you continually develop by staying in touch”.

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