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What Making 1,000+ Hires Has Taught Me


I think we can all agree, hiring is not easy. We hope every hire is a good one, but the fact is, hiring great people is hard.

Job seekers, just like companies, have access to a plethora of interview preparation material, and honestly, it can make it tricky to decipher someone’s genuine response from a canned one you can find online.

Throughout my 18-year career, including founding LABUR in 2008, I’d approximate that I’ve hired around 1,000 people, both internally and for clients. To say I’ve sat in on my fair share of interviews is a modest understatement. But it’s taught me a few things.

When my friend and fellow LABUR co-founder, Seth Burr, and I meet with prospective internal candidates, or if it’s to consult externally to the firm, we go into those meetings with a few of our own best practices.

Hiring for (fill in the blank) < Hiring for Fit

Here’s what I’ve learned over my years of hiring:

Hire for fit, don’t make the mistake of matching bullet points on a job description to bullet points on a resume. It won’t get you what you want in an employee long term.

  • Instead of hiring for specific professional experience, hire for personal experience. Ask: What’s the most adverse situation you’ve faced in your lifetime, and how did you overcome it?
  • Hire for purpose. Where priorities for the individual and priorities for the business intersect is where passion and career longevity live. Hire someone who shares the same mission.
  • Rather than hiring a skill set, hire the person. I call this human hiring; put the human back into the equation. If you have someone in front of you who aligns with your culture, is driven and who you can see yourself working with, that’s the person you should hire.
  • Hire someone who is teachable. This one took me the longest time to put my finger on, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important factors in my hiring decisions today. If someone has the right mindset, is coachable and has all of the raw material to be great, the rest can be taught.
  • Lose the instantaneous mindset and hire for the future. It might seem like a time commitment to train someone, but no matter the experience level, there will be some amount of training involved regardless. And honestly, it can sometimes be harder to train out bad habits than it is to train someone up.

Instead, I Hire for This

When I hire now, I keep our core values in mind and this is what I look for:

  1. Reciprocal dedication: When you invest in people, you’ll see the investment come back tenfold and it’ll pay off with a more dedicated team. To me, this is priceless.
  2. Passion for constant improvement: Forget the old adage to ‘always be selling’ (ABS), and look for people who are committed to always be learning (ABL). People with the right mindset and who are receptive to new ideas and training are unstoppable. At LABUR, we all approach our work this way.
  3. We versus me mentality: I went into business with my good friend and when we hire, we hire to add to our work family. We always look for people who want to be a part of that, first.
  4. The total package: Whether it’s internally or for our external client companies, we look at the total professional, to include less measurable factors like soft skills and EQ (emotional intelligence). It all comes down to behavioral science and the questions that uncover the person, not the candidate.
  5. Positivity: You attract positive results with a positive mindset. I look for people who have great perspective and a positive outlook.

Hiring is that simple and that hard. Find the right cadence for your interviews and ask the kinds of questions that get to the root of who and what you’re looking for in a team member. I’m convinced that being good at interviewing is something that develops over time. You have to adopt your own style; it’s definitely not something you can or should take offline and replicate. Without compromising on the priorities of your business, hone in on how and who you interview, especially if you, like me, haven’t always made the best hires in the past. And, always trust your instincts. If you don’t get an overwhelming ‘yes!’ feeling when you meet with someone, chances are you’ll be even less excited about that person down the road.