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Lessons from a Book by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross
This is an interesting book, with lots of lessons to learn. But there is a lot of fluff here. There is a lot of long evidence to convince about why 5 factor personality is not very good for hiring, really long, which could have been conveniently skipped. There are some chapters on actionable steps to remove bias and how different demographics can behave differently, which may or may not be very helpful in a changing order of world. Also one of the chapter is dedicated on Differently-Abled and how their Atypical talent can be of help, dealing with an edge case, important but should have been put in Appendices rather than a chapter.
What I thought can be of use to me future, more abstract thoughts which might be of help for me and you I am sharing here.
How to Interview and Ask Questions
If by any chance you have watched this tv-series called “Bull” which has a basic premise of selecting a jury for court cases to get a favourable trial. This chapter is like that. Not being too direct, not asking first order questions. And truly listen to what they have to say and observing how they are saying.
What are the open tabs on your browser right now ?
In essence you are asking about intellectual habits, curiosity, and what a person does in his or her spare time. You are getting past the talk and probing for person’s demonstrated preferences
If someone is truly is creative and inspiring, it will show in how they allocate their spare time
Tip 💡 | “Personality is revealed during weekends” [Ref]
Being a fast mover and being decisive — it is very hard to be successful and not have those traits as founder. Why that is, I am no perfectly clear on, but I think that is something … about the only advantage that start-ups have over large companies.
The interview is fundamentally about how to engage with people, and if you cannot and if you cannot engage with people, you cannot break through the combination of bravado, nerves and possibly even deceit that people bring to their interviews.
Interviews also play a crucial role in recruiting candidates AND helping spread a positive impression of you and your company, even in cases where you don’t end up hiring the person.
To avoid phoniness from the start try to get into the conversational mode as soon as possible. How you can do that ? By establishing common grounds and then by getting them to tell stories about themselves rather than reciting facts or canned answers.
Some interesting Questions to get into conversational mode ?
How did you spend your morning today ?
What’s the farthest you have been from another human ?
What’s something weird or unusual you did early on in life ?
What’s a story one of your references might tell me when I call them ?
If I was the perfect Netflix what type of movies I would recommend to you and why ?
How do you feel you are different from the people at your current company ?
What views do you hold religiously almost irrationally ?
How did you prepare for this interview ?
What sub-reddits, blogs or online communities do you enjoy ?
What is something esoteric you do ?
You can repeat these question by What’s another etc.
You real task as a human hirer:
Assessing their response and what it reveals. And to do that you need to draw on a broad variety of knowledge about cognition and personality as well as on your trained intuition. One good place to start is to consider their general resourcefulness, which is obviously of use in any job, especially in crisis and difficult times. Keep on asking yourself whether the candidate is successively able to draw upon intellectual and also emotional resources. They might just keep on showing innovative responses no matter how hard you push them. That is a sign of broader stores of intellect and energy.
Other questions to ask yourself ?
Whom is this person responding to or used to performing for
Whom do they view as important to impress
What do they do to maintain focus ? physical triggers
What are their negative triggers ? (slouching etc)
What do they signify ?
Is this person so good that you would happily work for them
Can this person get you where you want to be way faster than any reasonable person
When this person disagrees with you do you think it will be as likely as you are wrong as they are wrong
Do not overestimate the importance of person’s articulateness
Focus instead on the substance and quality of answer.
Don’t be afraid to
Let a question hang in the air
hold the tension as a way of making it clear you expect an answer
keep on looking at the candidate
Don’t reduce the tension with a nervous laugh, by turning away etc.
Ensure that every question generates a maximally informative answer.
What to notice
interviewee using unusual expressions
seems to be coining their own phrases
explains basic concepts in a way different from what you hear in mainstream
speaks as if they are developing useful memes
has unusual rhythmic pattern to their speech
conjures up a unique world-view
By changing the physical setting of an interview you can see how the interviewee adapt to these changes or you can also ask more practical question based in a new environment like (What do you think of service here ?)
Concept of Meta Questions
These questions ask the respondent to give an account of their self-awareness. In essence, you are trying to learn how many cultural and intellectual worlds an individual is master of, and how much perspective they have on their own perspective. This is what they mean by meta—that the person is considering his own viewpoint one level higher, more general, more distant. You are testing their facility with ideas and also how readily they can identify with alien viewpoints
Which beliefs are you least rational about
What views do you hold almost irrationally
How do you think the interview is going. Asking it multiple times across the interview
How ambitious you are
What criteria would you use for hiring
Who are our competitors
Keep in mind everyone is looking for talent, and you need to spot the talent that your competitors cannot.
Also remember your pecking order.
Some interesting quotes
But when you consider all things together—not only talent but the willingness to work hard, to sacrifice everything else, to be psychologically strong—not many have it in them to make it to the very top
You also might want to devote more attention to foreign markets or relatively untapped culture within the US, which perhaps have not been combed over so extensively as, say the American coastal cities and suburbs.
The import of underexplored territory is another reason intelligence and other features of talent can be relatively important to find at the very, very top of the market.
There is furthermore, direct evidence that higher intelligence people are better at co-operating.
Intelligence is overrated in making hires. Intelligence is context dependent and it matters most when the company is already favourably situated. More important qualities in a hire are drive, self-motivation, curiosity and ethics
Chapter 5 Personality traits
in One line - People think conscientousness is a good quality for hire but it’s not, it’s difficult to measure correctly as well, instead you should look for people with high stamina (consistence and persistence)
I look for founders who are scrappy and formidable at the same time (a rarer combination than it sounds); mission-oriented, obsessed with their companies, relentless, and determined; extremely smart (necessary but certainly not sufficient); decisive, fast-moving, and willful; courageous, high-conviction, and willing to be misunderstood; strong communicators and infectious evangelists; and capable of becoming tough and ambitious. [Ref]
Chapter 6 Exotic Personality traits
Personality traits can be used to create the proper framework for discourse among your team and come up with the factors that might matter for you. It will help your team come up with new concepts that are not of general use but are relevant for the sector or institution your work in.
The rate of improvement is often more important than the current absolute ability
Quality of getting work done every day with extreme regularity and without long streaks of achievement.
There is a certain vitality to individuals that can be striking. They talk quickly, move quickly, and in general seem to be enthralled with life. They run all possible combination of ideas through their heads, if only to better understand the possibilities.
Quality of never feeling quite comfortable with output. Quality often comes with critical self-talk and high level of aspiration.
They believe their work is never good enough.
Always having a smile and a sense of amusement.
These people cannot express their ideas in clear, simple fashion
Vagueness and Precisions
Some minds are just satisfied thinking in mushy concepts and unspecific terms
Who can understand what kind of efforts are needed for the team as whole, then step up and supply them
Can this person be selectively agreeable and then also disagreeable when called for ?
The curiosity is about models, frameworks, cultural understandings, disciplines, and methods of thought, the kind of traits.
You need to figure out why that candidate wants to work with you.
There is ongoing crisis of confidence in many humans, even in the best of times, and that means high returns from nudging talent in the proper direction. if you are able to spot people who are having a confidence crisis and if you understand the nature of those crisis, you are all better placed to give them the right kind of positive nudge.
That’s all this book had to offer imo.
Thanks for reading. I am glad you took out time from your busy life to read this.