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That one thing I look out for in a potential hire...

02 May 2013
Vineet Nayar

A young manager recently sought my advice on finding the “right” candidate for his team. “Should I look for experience or attitude Vineet?” he asked. “Neither”, I replied.

The legends around the "perfect employee” are many but when it comes to “potential employees” the clichés get even worse. Most of us are guilty of using pedantic means of evaluating the potential employees and rarely prepare ourselves for the interviewer’s role. It’s like we are doing a favor to the interviewee giving him the opportunity to present his/her credentials to us! This condescending approach, I believe, is the biggest fault-line in a job interview process today. But that’s a long discussion, and one that I will perhaps return to at a later date.

For now let me focus on the question I began this note with.

“First and foremost you should look for the energy quotient of the candidate,” I told the young Manager.

That’s right. The first thing I look out for in an interviewee is the energy that the he/she brings to the room.  And I’m not talking about the spinning-wheel type of hyperactivity, but the positive activity, buzz and vibe the candidate brings to the table – keen conversation, expressive gestures, enthusiastic body language etc. High energy shows in the posture, walk, and even the eyes; it simply takes over the room. And that energy is the deal-clincher for me. Nothing else, not even the highest GPA from the most elitist Ivy League can beat that as the top influencer on my score card.

Does that mean I end up hiring any guy who breaks a glass in my room? Well….