You don’t get to perch yourself on a park bench and eat ice cream with the likes of Paul McCartney by wingin’ it. Most employers don’t start a company because they’re good at doing the books, hiring or leading a team. People start companies because they’re passionate about a product, service or customers. Put simply, a lot of leaders aren’t necessarily born with great business sense. Warren Buffett however has the passion and the know-how.

A 2014 Careerbuilder report revealed that 24% of employers expect to hire full-time, permanent staff. It’s safe to say that a whole lot of hiring is going on, but again, successful hiring isn’t necessarily a strength for all employers and leaders. Smart people look to those who have been there and done that. So WWBD?

While there is always a case for the good old resume, Buffett contends that behavioral data is more important in the end. Don’t get crazy now, the resume isn’t going anywhere (despite some opinions), but maybe it’s time to take a deeper interest in the humans that pass through our HR departments, instead of just the paperwork.

The 3 Questions…Dun, Dun, Duuuun

Once the resumes are parsed, and the proper data is collected, there are three behavioral questions that Warren Buffett believes will help find the right candidate (or at least the type of employee that Buffett wants working for him, and that’s good enough for us!)

Is this person smart?

All resumes are a personal account of the candidate’s successes and experience, and sad to say, they are bound to be embellished, even if it is just a little.

“Aggregate HireRight screening data reveals that over 30 percent of all application forms contain discrepancies about work experience or education history, demonstrating the lengths to which some applicants will go to land the job.” - Lisa Gallagher, VP of Operations HireRight

So if you don’t want to go the way of Google past, and ask off the wall questions in a misguided quest to find the wise ones, what are the options? To keep things simple you can administer intelligence testing as part of the interview process. These tests or assessments are cost effective, simple and fair. They also make the interview process less vulnerable to bias, and more objective. 

Does this person have energy?

This one might not be as easy to gauge. You can’t just administer a test to measure someone’s energy, excitement or engagement. Have no fear; Buffett has the answer:

“To find out if they have energy, he asks candidates to give a 10-minute presentation and, after they are done, gives them two minutes to figure out a new way to present that same information in a five-minute presentation.”

This might not be ideal for all hiring situations, so here’s a less intense alternative. Like I said, the resume is still very much needed in this process, and it can actually help you accrue certain behavioral data. Look to their resume and find words synonymous with energy like: drive, efficient, strength, excited, effective, fortitude. Ask about those areas, and make note of their inflection and body language when they are speaking about things they are supposed to be passionate about.

Does this person have integrity?

The resume can’t really help us with this one. Buffett suggests that this is a case for thorough background screening. The higher up the position you’re hiring for, the more intensive this part of the process needs to become. Some experts even suggest outsourcing an integrity interviewer. Didn’t know they existed? Most don’t.

“An outsourced integrity interviewer will provide the employer with a report that outlines the degree of risk to the employer related to the candidate’s integrity. The risk, of course, will vary according to the employer, job, level of responsibility, and other factors. For example, the risks involved in the federal government’s hiring of airport security personnel are clearly higher that those of the neighborhood bookstore looking to hire a part-time sales clerk. But the bookstore manager still needs to manage the risk.”

With hiring on the rise for the majority of companies this year, this is no time to reinvent the wheel. Instead, take some advice from the pros. Warren’s hiring methods might not be the best fit your organization, so move on to a mentor with whom you share values and cultural likenesses.

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Photo by: speeeeeeed_of_white via instagram

Views: 176

Comment by Nicholas Meyler on September 2, 2014 at 12:08am

Those are great criteria, in general.  I really like the 'integrity' criterion, especially. 


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