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Inspiring hiring mantras from today’s greatest leaders

Recruiting is the most important activity that any business does, and leaders understand that.

Behind every successful business, there are many dedicated and talented employees. Great leaders focus on building great teams, because teams can take an organisation to great heights.

What recruiting lessons can we learn from some of the most admired leaders in the world?

Here are a few of their recruiting mantras:


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Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors, and a wise leader. Buffett regards three important qualities as essential among the employees he hires:

1. Integrity and honesty

2. Intelligence 

3. Energy and hard work

What is important is that Buffett regards integrity and honesty above all other qualities. He says that without honesty, the value ofintelligence and hard work are misdirected and can bring adverse results.


Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer in his parents' garage which eventually became the world's most valuable company.

Throughout his career Jobs showed remarkable leadership through his ability to identify and attract outstanding talent. Many were motivated to work for him.

How did he achieve this?

First, he attracted talent by telling them that they could do the greatest work of their life. Apple provides an environment where talented employees can make a huge difference. 

Second, he said "A players like to work with other A players." This meant he built great teams where people were excited to work with other great people. 

Third, he focused on hiring the best specialists in each function. He hired the best person for operations, for designing retail stores, for software engineering and for mp3 music players (iPod).

This ensured that he got outstanding results in each area and an organisation with excellence at its core.


Bill Gates

Bill Gates once said, "The key for us, the number one, has always been hiring very smart people."

Being a very high IQ person himself, he has a preference for people with high intellectual bandwidth. He describes people he likes to hire as:

1. Likes to solve complex problems

2. Knowledgeable about a lot of things

3. Capacity to work very hard

4. Great at multi-tasking


Jack Welch

The legendary erstwhile CEO of GE is a management guru whose ideas have shaped the world of business.

Jack Welch is specially passionate and insightful about people management – hiring, assessing and motivating talented people to be their best.

Welch has three "acid tests" and four "E's" for hiring new employees.

His acid tests are:

1. Integrity: truthfulness, honesty, admitting mistakes

2. Intelligence: curiosity and knowledge

3. Maturity: handling stress and setbacks, humility, celebrating success

His four E's are:

1. Positive Energy: optimism, love for life

2. Energising others: inspiring others by knowledge and persuasive ability

3. Edge: ability to make tough decisions

4. Execution: ability to get things done

Finally, Welch lays emphasis on "passion" which he describes as authentic excitement about work.


Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is one of the great leaders if Internet age and his company Amazon sets the standards for excellence as a career destination.

Here are a few tips from Bezos on how to hire people:

1. He looks for people who have been failures by trying something big

2. He asks three questions:

a) what do I admire about this person

b) will they raise the effectiveness of the team c) what is their superstar quality

3. In an article in The New Yorker, it was described that Amazon likes to hire high IQ people who are introverted, detailed-oriented and like to get things done, but not always great at communicating. About 80% of employees fit this personality type.

4. Amazon also sets the bar very high and candidates are interviewed by at least five interviewers, each having a 'veto' power. 

5. The company also sometimes interviews more than 50 people for a position before making a decision.


Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a new age rock star CEO who has built many highly innovative companies in high technology like Tesla, SpaceX and earlier X.com (which merged with PayPal).

He is a creative genius who has shown dynamic leadership and knowledge of programming, physics, economics and rocket science. What does he look for when hiring people?

Apart from technical ability, Musk looks for the following:

1. Positive attitude

2. Easy to work with

3. Are people going to like working with someone (this is very important)

Musk interviews every candidate at SpaceX and uses innovative methods to source good candidates like Twitter and custom email addresses for key assignments.


Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca is the legendary turnaround American executive who was the CEO for Ford Motor Company and later, Chrysler.

He had this simple rule for hiring and managing:

"I hire people who are smarter than me, then get out of their way".

The ability and courage to hire people who are smarter than him is a characteristic of many leaders.


Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is the celebrated modern-day CEO and founder of Facebook. Apart from technical brilliance, passion, and being a self-starter, he has this very interesting observation about the type of people he hires – he likes to check what it would be like to work for the person he is hiring.

This gives him insight into the person's leadership style, ability to get along and inspire others.


Sharad Verma is the global head of human resources for a financial technology organisation based in India. With over 20 years of human resource experience, his expertise lies within talent retention and development specifically geared toward middle management, and he blogs regularly on these topics. To contact him, email editor@mystarjob.com


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