TIP TUESDAY: Watch Out for One Red-Flag Personality Trait

{excerpted from an article on Inc. online)

Amazon and Google get their pick of top talent. The world’s most profitable tech companies offer competitive compensation packages and attract the industry’s best and brightest candidates. So who ultimately makes the cut?

Ask Nancy Wang, who’s been a hiring manager for both companies. She is also the founder and CEO of Advancing Women in Product, a non-profit  organization that aims to empower more women and under-represented groups to become tech leaders.

What makes successful candidates stand out from so-so ones.

“The most successful candidates I’ve seen are naturally curious,” she wrote on Quora. “What is most important is their ability to pick things up quick and their ‘can do’ attitude.” Just like Steve Jobs, Wang looks for problem solvers and who can learn as they go.

Wang says expertise is only one part of the hiring puzzle. It’s not related to how smart a candidate is, what degrees she has, or which top-tier university he did or didn’t go to. She believes there’s only so much knowledge one person can have. And in an interview, it’s not fair to assume the candidate is an expert on everything. Being able to dive in and let your curiosity lead you to finding answers will help a new hire be successful at any job.

Candidates with this one red-flag trait are less likely to get hired.

In her experience hiring for Amazon and Google, Wang has figured out how to quickly identify candidates who probably won’t work out. Know-it-alls tend not to do well at either company.

“What worries me during interviews is when candidates purport to know something,” Wang writes, “and then when I dig deeper, the whole house of cards start falling apart.”

No matter what their level, employees need to be leaders. And leaders need to be able to be comfortable asking questions if they don’t know something. They also need to admit when they’re wrong.

The strategic interview question that weeds out the know-it-alls.

That personality trait that is one that Boxed CEO Chieh Huang also avoids. He wants to hire people who are comfortable being honest about what they don’t know. Those people tend to be better collaborators and more pleasant to work with.

Huang even has an interview question that gets to the heart of overconfidence: He asks people to rate their knowledge of technology trends on a scale of 1 to 10. He doesn’t believe anyone who answers with a 9 or a 10, because no one can know everything.