The Most Important Trait We Look For When Hiring

The Most Important Trait We Look For When Hiring

After a twenty-year career working in Silicon Valley and working at and with both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies, I’ve had the gift of getting to know some of the most outstanding leaders in the world. I’ve seen companies skyrocket and I’ve seen many crash and burn. I’ve learned what makes a great leader successful and what it takes for a company to cross the chasm.

It all comes down to one single trait. Perseverance.

You have likely heard this before but take a moment to soak it in and think about it. As you are doing this, consider how you are incorporating the measurement of perseverance into your interview process and if you are the candidate, examining if you really have it.

I’ll tell you the first signal we see when a candidate doesn’t have it is job hopping. Two years or under at multiple jobs sends off our warning signals. It shows us that you can’t stay the course when things get tough or you did not have the ability to persevere through the toughest of times that either you were going through or the company was weathering. Companies, like people, are continuously faced with unforeseen challenges and it is the leaders that persevere through these challenges that are the most interesting for us to hire.

Frequently we see CEOs and hiring managers wooed by the leader who have been at the fast growth start up and rode the rocket ship before but what is more appealing to us, as recruiters, is the leader that faced huge headwinds, saw adversity, saw failure and then struggled through that moment, found the solution, and learned.

It is exciting to hear about somebody’s past career success. You imagine them doing the same for you and it is easy to get wrapped up in that story. The more important thing to listen to is the roadblocks they overcame to get there, the challenges they faced, the problems they may have encountered along the way and the tactics they used to solve them. What is most interesting is to learn about how they convinced others to take a chance on their ideas or when a product or marketing experiment failed and what they did next.

Perseverance is truly a rare quality. It is hard to find and it is hard to measure for but it is the single most important thing to consider when hiring a leader and the measurement of it should be incorporated into your hiring process.