Attributes of intelligence while hiring a great talent on team

Smitam Amol Wankhede
photo: Smitam Amol Wankhede

Hiring right talent is a topic that has recently spiked my interest and I am researching, reading about what to look for. As always, I wanted to get a framework for myself to think in terms of challenges, principles and possible options.

Hiring is complex, there is no silver bullet and with many, here are some of my current challenges:

  • Asking (well known) probing questions and spotting talent in a limited amount of time (typically 45 mins)
  • Classifying and identifying candidates who interview well vs candidate who “can” perform well.
  • Identifying team culture fit

Over the course of time, from many training, coaching and understanding — Here are my top parameters with few others that I am looking for in senior candidates:

  • Mindset and attitude towards work that brings passion. To be honest I am not so much into probing skills.
  • Curiosity that has led to action bias in the past experience. Accomplishments that are more than “Assignment”
  • Intelligence — can a candidate “Think”, if so “how do the think” and how do they “influence”

I’ve, for the most part have developed a good intuition for first 2. For spotting intelligence and not personality traits still remains ToDo for me. Recently Inspired by Elad Gill’s writing, I am listing down what I think are signs / attributes of intelligence. There are many popular frameworks out there — this simple list is working out for me and I hope it will benefit others on the internet.

I like to categorize these attributes based on how individuals process input, act on that input and how outcome in articulated –

Attributes on how individual perceive input-

  • Awareness and observations — degree to which attention to detail is given accessing problem
  • Rate of learning new skill or concept when new situation or problem is encountered — how quickly they can learn a new skill OR rate of refreshing knowledge base.
  • Acceptance of lack of knowledge to solve a problem
  • Ability and attitude of handling critics and constructive feedback input

Indicators on how information is processed

  • Clock speed — ability to think fast and quickly and generate options for a problem and rank them based on framework.
  • Analyzing situation / objects/ environment — Analytical ability to extract data from noise.
  • Creativity — able to envision one more way to solve a problem and out of the box thinking
  • Synthesis — combining existing models and ideas to solve a problem in a creative way, in other words constructive innovation.
  • Pattern matching and prediction — Ability to consuming data, filtering noise and finding a pattern.
  • Abstraction — Ability to summarize and abstract concept with analogy or categorical topicality.
  • Clarity of thinking — Thinking by first principles and asking better why and how questions.
  • Prioritization –Thinking around available alternatives. Prioritizing based on factual, rational and unbiased alternatives.
  • Thinking in systems — ability to co-relate and think though system wide implications of a change to people and business.

Indicators on how outcome of thinking process is articulated

  • Memory — ability retrieve information with precision based on input or reference
  • Ability to articulate, comprehend a situation, concept, imagination and thoughts in cohesive and to a certain extent, in story form
  • Ability to context switch when confronted with unexpected interruption- detach and shift focus rapidly when improvising a solution
  • Quality of decisions with head and heart (emotional intelligence)

Previous experience, current role and most importantly — candidate references play key role complementing to above.

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