How I Hire: Intellectual Curiosity Required [Jim Whitehurst, Chief Executive Officer at Red Hat]

The hiring process can be both tedious and daunting. The “war for talent” is no secret, and particularly among tech companies where competition is fierce, hiring and retaining the best and brightest is a top priority.

When I’m speaking to a candidate, chances are they’ve already been extensively vetted. They likely have the skills and experience required for the position, and they fit our work culture. As a result, there is not much to be gained by having me test them on these areas.

Instead, after years of interviewing candidates for a wide variety of positions, I focus my time with them on determining two things:

  1. Do they posses the characteristic I value the most on my teams: intellectual curiosity, and
  2. Are they different from me?

First off, I’m looking for people who are thoughtful and eager to learn new things. I want to hire people who can achieve and think beyond the role they’re interviewing for, and understand how that role fits into the bigger company picture. For instance, if I’m talking to someone who is being considered for a finance position and also currently coming from finance, I’ll ask questions about their current company but on areas totally unrelated to their current job. I want to know if they’re curious about the business and industry they work in, or if they are simply there to perform their designated role without genuinely understanding what their company does.

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