Monday, August 26, 2013

Looking for the beasts

From yesterday’s New York Times, and the Corner Office column by Adam Bryant and his interview with Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin, the online real estate site.

How do you hire? What are you looking for? What questions do you ask?

A. Mostly what I’ve learned about it is, you can’t judge a book by its cover. It’s very hard in an interview when someone talks about their work to judge them. What you want is to have them do the work. So when I interview engineers, I give them a coding problem and I ask them to work through it. When I interview a marketing person, I say, “Write a press release,” or, if you’re in P.R., “Write a pitch.” I want to see the actual quality of their work.

The other thing that I look for is people who are beasts. I was a dishwasher once and I kept falling behind with all the dishes, and this guy in the kitchen yelled at me to get me going — “You’re an animal. You’re a beast.” And I was just a very intellectual, effete kid — I was probably reading Proust at that point in my life — and that experience made me a lot grittier and tougher.

If I haven’t found evidence that someone’s ever done anything hard in their lives, then I just don’t believe they’re suddenly going to be able to jump into a phone booth, come out wearing a cape and learn how to be tough on this job. I want to know about anything you’ve done that’s hard, really hard. So I tend to focus on that.  

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