CEO: Worldly Experiences Make You Stand Out, But Don’t Forget the Basics

Having returned last night from a wonderful vacation in Italy, jet lag had me up early and eagerly awaiting delivery of the New York Times.  As usual, the Corner Office column is full of good advice for anyone building a resume or launching a career.

Deloitte LLP CEO Barry Salzberg provides his insights into leadership, and answers the column’s standing question — How do you hire? — with more than a formulaic response.  Make special note of  the paragraph I highlighted in bold face. 

Q.  How do you hire?

A.  The one thing that’s most important to me when I interview is to be sure there is a very good marriage.  This isn’t about Deloitte just believing that the person we are interviewing is perfect for some role.  It’s also that person believing that the Deloitte is perfect for the environment that they want to be in.  And throughout my interviews with people, I’m searching to determine whether that marriage is there.  It shouldn’t be one-sided, because if it is, it’s not going to be a successful marriage.  So I’m looking for values.  I’m looking for priorities.  I’m looking for personality.  I’m looking for fit.

Now, of course, that’s in addition to whether they have the competence and experience, right?  Do they fit the job description? But we’re also looking for these intangibles, because at the end of the day, what we’ve found is, people join you for the firm and what they think they are going to do, and they leave because of the people and the environment they work in.  So if you are looking to hire someone for the sustainable future, you want to be sure that that fit is really going to be there. 

I do a lot of speaking to university students, and inevitably the question comes up: What are you looking for? I say: Look, you are smart.  You are going to graduate with good grades, you are going to want to get into our firm. But we’ve got to find out who is different and what makes you different. 

I look for speaking and writing skills, values, and experiences — not in the field, but worldly experiences. I love the person who went traveling for a while. I love the person who worked in a meaningful way for a couple of not-for-profits. I like the person who has communication skills.

What you often see when you look at graduating students is that they’ve got the core competencies, but they’re not as good at communicating verbally.  And so I tell people, you’ve got to broaden who you are and be yourself.  I don’t want to interview the person you think I want to interview.  I want to interview you

2 thoughts on “CEO: Worldly Experiences Make You Stand Out, But Don’t Forget the Basics

  1. You can tell alot about a person by the company they keep, the experiences they’ve had and what they do outside of work. I always like to ask what people do outside of work. It can tell you a great deal about their values. What’s great is that people don’t understand that that’s exactly what you are evaluating. They always answer the question honestly – you can’t go wrong.

  2. “I don’t want to interview the person you think I want to interview.”–This. In my own experience, I’ve found that even if you get recruited by an organization and it’s not a good fit, then eventually, you realize you have to move on. It’s just as important to evaluate the prospective employer, as it evaluates you.

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