How Can You Hire the Best People for Your Business? Here’s What Steve Jobs Looked For

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On January 26, 2018

We tend to think of Steve Jobs as a great and successful entrepreneur—which he was. But even though he was a man with great ideas and drive, he couldn’t accomplish what he wanted by himself. He needed to have the right people around him. How can you hire the best people for your business? Here’s what Steve Jobs looked for.

Early on, Jobs hired professional managers, according to an story, who had the experience and training he thought was needed. He quickly came to the conclusion that, “They knew how to manage, but they didn’t know how to do anything.” He realized that what he wanted were “people that were insanely great at what they did, but were not necessarily those seasoned professionals.” He wanted people who were passionate in their understanding of where technology was and what they could do with it.

How did they find these people of passion? Apple changed its interview process. Instead of the typical interview questions, they would present candidates with a Mac prototype and watched their reaction. If the eyes of the interviewees lit up and they got excited, Apple knew that they had someone with passion—a kindred spirit. Steve Jobs was looking for both hard and soft skills in the people he hired. It was obvious, however, that one of the most important characteristics he sought in potential hires was passion.

Here’s what I find interesting about what Steve Jobs did. Most conventional job interviews won’t uncover or reveal someone’s passion. They are designed to reveal education, experience, and certain capabilities. They are pretty good at indicating if a candidate has been a well-functioning part of a company. But a conventional approach in business hiring wasn’t giving Steve Jobs what he was looking for. It wasn’t asking the right questions.

Jobs knew that he couldn’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. He had to change the way he (and the rest of Apple) hired people. It required a transformation of their thinking and actions.

“Think Different” was more than just a clever ad campaign that Apple used to sell their products. (By the way, you might enjoy revisiting the original “Think Different” commercial—narrated by Steve Jobs here).

Contact me if you’d like to talk about how you can “think different” about how you handle hiring in your company—and transform other parts of your business so that you can scale up and take your business to new heights.