Top Five Things I Look For in a New Hire by Brian Watterson
Through the years it’s become rather commonplace for me to receive compliments on the success of NCI. Perhaps that sounds boastful, but it’s 100% truth. When asked what our secret or key to success is, I generally respond with a snarky retort about my amazing leadership skills. Then I usually give the straight answer: personnel. For me, success in business, or really in any structure, is about surrounding yourself with enough good people. That’s always been our key ingredient. A very good friend once said of us “you always seem to find that next great NCI employee”. I believe that to be true.
Practically none of our people come to us ready-made, and we usually don’t seek a lot of industry experience. What we look for are the intangibles. We seek out good, honest people who are typically undervalued in their current positions. For you sports movies buffs, NCI plays the Money Ball game when it comes to finding talent.
So, in keeping with this blog fashion, I’ve detailed the top five things I’m looking for in a new hire.
5. Flexibility. Small or mid-sized corporate life isn’t for everyone. To work in a business like ours, while preserving your sanity, you must maintain a lot of flexibility. Things are rarely just handed to you at a place like NCI, and the demands to be excellent are very high. Those with the right mentality can adjust to this life. I’ve seen some that couldn’t, however, and they usually wash out here. It is what it is.
4. The Total Life. When I sit down with a candidate, I often ask about the things that they involve themselves with outside of work. Do they volunteer anywhere? Do they support youth sports programs? Maybe Scouts or 4H? Do they have a longstanding hobby? How have they grown with this hobby? Have they completed a book series? Do they have a passion to go out and get their hands into something, or are they a couch potato that lives in Facebook all night? If you are willing to invest yourself into something like a charity or a hobby, you will probably be willing to submerge yourself into NCI culture and help make this team stronger. We aren’t looking for “4:59 guys”, if you catch my drift.
3. Commitment. This one goes hand in hand with #4. I’m looking for candidates that are willing to commit themselves to being that next great NCI employee. If that means traveling for training, pitching in for a social event, or helping us on a weekend, I want someone who is committed to giving back as much as they get. I’m looking for someone who will jump into the fray when things get hectic, not tuck and run.
2. Positive Energy. No one wants a Debbie Downer in the work place. A cup half-empty, gloom and doomer is an instant turn off for me. If the candidate comes to us with immediate criticisms of their last employer, it’s already a red flag. Nickie Nation is a happy and healthy work community, and we seek out those who are genuinely positive and upbeat people. I’m not saying that every day is Disneyland at NCI, but negative energy is a virus that can spread through a good company like wildfire. Positive people generally make better self-starters, and we are an infrastructure company, not a daycare. To be blunt: Sad Sacks need not apply.
1. Strong Core Values. There are things that you just can’t teach someone, right? You can’t teach integrity, you can’t teach loyalty. You can’t teach work ethic. In a nutshell, we can’t make someone a good person. Mostly anyone can do a job at NCI, and do it very well, IF (big if), they have strong internal qualities. We look for truly honest and loyal folks and then we teach them what they need to learn. It’s really very simple.
So hey, if you have the right stuff, who knows. We can always find room for a good person.
Brian S. Watterson