As entrepreneurs, one of the major skills we need in business is the ability to discern the people who will be good for our company. Who will help us to attain the growth we want? Who will be a weight around our neck as we climb? We spoke to entrepreneur Justin Cobb to find out what skills he looks for.
There are many traits that a business owner could focus in on when trying to find a new hire. Intelligence, organization, work ethic, ambition. All of those are certainly valid things to look for. However, without one key trait, all of these positives could be negatives. What is that key trait?
Warren Buffet, business magnate and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, had an idea. He said:
“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”
He makes a very good point. Without integrity, a person of great ambition and intelligence can be dangerous and destructive to what you have built. Integrity is what holds together any positive traits they have, and makes them act with good judgment. But how do you find it?
Integrity is about honesty, decency, and accountability. So in an interview situation, it’s important to ask questions that pinpoint these values. There are some very straightforward values-based interview questions you can ask, such as:
- Can you remember a time when you saw a fellow employee do something you thought was inappropriate? What did you do?
- Would you be willing to tell a little white lie to secure a deal for us, if necessary?
- When was the last time you ‘broke the rules’?
- Have you ever been in a situation where you were penalized for doing the right thing? How did you react?
There are many other questions you could use, but the main goal is to find out how trustworthy your potential employee is. After that, you can start figuring out if they have what it takes to be a real asset.
Justin Cobb is a US entrepreneur, with business interests worldwide. He speaks regularly at international events on subjects related to success, business, and leadership.