Over the past several weeks I’ve read interviews with business executives who talk about their hiring process and what they look for in a candidate. The types of responses, which I paraphrase below, are somewhat off-putting, especially coming from CEOs and other high-level executives:
“I ask myself, ‘Do I want to hang out with this person after work?’”
“I look for someone I’m comfortable spending time with—inside and outside the office.”
“The kinds of people I end up hiring are people I feel like I’ve known a long time.”
People I feel like I’ve known a long time? You mean, someone who reminds you of a friend?
This trend has more to do with the social aspect of hiring (“Is this person someone I can be friends with?”) than a business aspect (“Is this person best qualified for the position?”). Yes, the workday is long and it makes sense to hire people you like — no jerks — but there is a huge difference between liking your underlings and “hanging out” with them. After all, we’re talking about the workplace, not a fraternity.
Take a good look at your office, your company. How diverse are the people who work there? Do you all dress alike, talk alike, and think alike? Perhaps. This may contribute to a friendly, stress-free environment, but how productive can an office be if everyone is thinking the same way and few people are bringing new ideas to the table?
The line between social and business practices is becoming blurrier, and perhaps our corporate leaders — consciously or unconsciously — are yielding to today’s Facebook mentality. Instead of hiring the right candidate, the corporate executive is “friending” a new employee.
I would like to think that executives are looking to hire the most qualified candidate for the position, and that they throw away the social element altogether. I’d rather hear:
“I look for weaknesses in my company and hire people who can turn those weaknesses into strengths.”
“I hire people who are entrepreneurial, who are clear thinkers, who will challenge my own way of thinking about what makes a company successful.”
“I want somebody who’s a hard worker, who has shown me she can deal with adversity—someone who’s qualified and wants to grow with the company.”
“I need someone who’s going to get the job done on a daily basis—someone who wants to spend quality time with her family and outside friends—not her colleagues—because she understands that family and friends provide the necessary strength to get through the workday.”
Diverse demographics, psychographics, education, and race make up an ideal workplace. Clones do not.
Executives should be looking to hire the most entrepreneurial, best suited, battle-tested, excited, inspired, and curious candidates, not someone they’re looking to have a beer with after work
To all those executives who want to look in the mirror and see new hires looking back, clone alone on your own time—outside the office.