How to Hire the Right Person: 5 Qualities to Look For

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Winning" by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you currently interviewing candidates for a position at your company? How can you hire the right person for the job?

There’s nothing worse as a manager than hiring a person who isn’t qualified to do the job. That’s why Winning by Jack Welch shares five characteristics you should look for in candidates.

Let’s look at how to hire the right person so they’re a good fit for your company.

How to Hire Effectively

Welch emphasizes the importance of having strong hiring practices as a way to ensure the right people are working for your business. He claims that hiring is a tricky process, and though a strong résumé and experience are important, you’ll often have to rely on instinct to determine who will be best for the job. Through trial and error, Welch has identified five key characteristics to look for when learning how to hire the right person: 

  1. Vigorous: You want employees who are active and optimistic. Such people work hard and get along well with others.
  2. Inspirational: You want employees who can inspire and motivate others through both their words and actions.
  3. Decisive: In business, people have to make tough decisions, and they often don’t have as much time or information as they’d like to have. You want employees who try to analyze situations and make the best possible decisions when they can, but who are also not afraid to make a quick decision when necessary.
  4. Effective: Make sure your employees know how to get the job done. Welch admits that effectiveness can be easily overlooked—sometimes people seem to have great potential and the right characteristics but for whatever reason can’t implement decisions effectively. 
  5. Enthusiastic: Finally, you want employees who are excited about the work they’re doing. No matter your work ethic or business experience, it’s enthusiasm that truly sets people apart. 
Alternative Hiring Strategies

Though Welch says that his five characteristics to look for have been effective for him, he also acknowledges that there are many different ways to go about hiring effectively. Let’s look at some hiring advice from other business experts and see how it stacks up against Welch’s advice.

One thing to consider is that it might be better to hire based on what people excel at rather than trying to find someone who ticks every box. As Peter Drucker says in The Effective Executive, you won’t ever find the perfect candidate, so it’s best to focus on the traits you feel are most important. Though you may want to find someone who exhibits all five of Welch’s key characteristics, it may be more realistic and effective to determine which two or three characteristics are most important for the job. If you’re hiring a salesperson, for example, you might determine that energy and enthusiasm are the most important traits. If you’re hiring a manager, you may want someone who is decisive and inspirational. 

What’s more, since Welch stresses the importance of using your instincts to find people with the right characteristics, you should focus more on interviewing the candidates personally rather than comparing their skills and experience on paper. In Scaling Up, Verne Harnish recommends limiting your in-person interviews to five or 10 candidates so that you can perform comprehensive interviews with each interviewee. This will help you determine if the candidate has the right attributes and temperament to fit in with your company’s culture and values. 
How to Hire the Right Person: 5 Qualities to Look For

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jack Welch and Suzy Welch's "Winning" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Winning summary:

  • Business advice from one of the best-known corporate leaders in the US
  • How to win the business world, whether you own a business or work for one
  • Advice such as how to hire effectively and how to adapt your company

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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