Hiring The Best People

There is a lot of good advice in this posting by Marc Andreessen about hiring the best people you’ve ever worked with. I am glad that he is quick to debunk one of my favorites: the companies that use logic puzzles and academic degrees as interview tools:

Specifically, I am unaware of any actual data that shows a correlation between raw intelligence, as measured by any of the standard metrics (educational achievement, intelligence tests, or skill at solving logic puzzles) and company success.

For example, a classic Microsoft interview question was: “Why is a manhole cover round?”

The right answer, of course, is, “Who cares? Are we in the manhole business?”

(Followed by twisting in your chair to look all around, getting up, and leaving.)

In fact, I have blogged previously about how smug intelligent people frequently get it tragically wrong in a business environment.

I have been in several frustrating conversations with clueless hiring managers trying to convince them to hire very talented, driven and focused individuals who didn’t happen to have a specific technology buzzword on their resume. Hire motivated people and they can learn a technology; in fact, they will be eager to learn something new (it’s a warning flag if they don’t). Hire smug know-it-alls, and they have no motivation to learn anything (they know it all already) and tend to drag down those around them with their prima-dona attitudes.

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