This is my guide to hiring: look for the ‘fire in the eyes’.
I look for someone who’s eyes twinkle when they talk about their hopes and ambitions, and when they talk about your company. Someone that has that sparkle of brightness, coupled with a personality that you warm to straight away.I have hired people (or rather, known I was going to hire someone) just by reading their cover letter. My Account Director, Mark, was like that. We still talk about his cover letter to this day, it is part of the mythology of my company: this passionate, clever, witty, researched letter exuding a desire to work with you. I knew after reading it there was no way I wouldn’t hire him.
Same with when I interviewed Tom, one of our Account Managers. He came to our interview with the job description highlighted and full of notes, and we asked him to share his notes, and what he said was so full of heart and hope and sincerity… I pretty much hired him on the spot. I love especially when you hire someone that has never done the exact job you are hiring them for, but you just *know* they are going to excel at a challenge you throw at them. They are overlooked by other companies who only want people from the ‘right’ schools and who have done it all before, but I love nothing more than spotting that diamond in the rough and giving them an opportunity to shine. I look around my amazing team and see little gems who I trust and who are so loyal and hard-working, and bring with them untarnished thinking and no ego. The challenge with this direction is that I tend not to have team members who have done their job before, we are all working it out as we go along. This is both an incredible strength – giving us creativity and unfettered thinking and passion – but a challenge as we can get it wrong, and it takes a degree of management overhead which perhaps a more seasoned team wouldn’t need so much. My other favourite hiring moments: we have a great designer, Barbara, who had studied and worked so hard, and only agencies and her university gave her work. We looked at the body of work she had done, and were shocked. Why would this beautiful talented girl not get snapped up? Perhaps she didn’t have the experience, and she was shy and not aggressive in her approach. But what we saw in her was a well-rounded, ambitious, creative person who just wanted a chance to shine. So, we gave it to her. What a gem! She can do anything from print design to website design to illustrations to user experience design. And she does it well, quickly, and I think relishes how appreciated she is, the freedom to get a bit creative, and how pivotal her role is in the company, and she knows it. My CTO, Ciaran, was also one of those people I knew I would hire before I even met him. He tells the story that he knew this was the company he wanted, and he didn’t even apply or care about any other roles. He sent an application in, then – and I love this – he called up to tell me he had just applied, and just so I knew, he *really* wanted this job. Love that. The point is, as a CEO, you have to make hiring decisions on so little information, and you often just have to go with your gut. And what my gut looks for (ok, some mixed metaphors here, I know) is that spark and fire in the eyes, someone that goes a little beyond the normal, and I do love a good coincidence. My last hiring tale is about hiring my quirky and exceptional Finance Manager, Sofia. We knew we needed a Finance Manager, so I tweeted this fact. A friend of mine responded with a tweet saying a friend of his might be interested, and sent her email address. I emailed this person, and we interviewed her. What we found out was that my friend had only met her once a year ago, and didn’t know her that well at all. He hadn’t spoken to Sofia in a year, and had no idea if she was even looking for work. It turns out Sofia had just quit her job a week before, and was looking for work in a startup. It could not have been better orchestrated. We pretty much hired her straight away, she had the fire in her eyes. Sofia still makes me laugh more than almost anyone in the world.
Anyway, we are hiring again, so I leave it to those who have that spark to get in touch!