Career Advice

Don’t fit in.

August 22, 2017

Contributed by Jeff Vijungco, Vice President, Corporate Employee Experience, Talent & Technology

As someone who has been in the Employee Experience world for nearly 2 decades, it’s nothing new to say that Silicon Valley is enamored with the topic of talent. Given this eternal hot topic and given the nature of what I do, I’m constantly asked what I look for.

Here’s my POV – I look for candidates who share the same core values BUT what I refer to as “oddly attractive.” I know, that sounds like jumbo shrimp, but hear me out:

1. Culture Fit Culture Complement

Right off the bat I’m looking to see if they’re a “culture complement” versus a “culture fit.” This means someone who adds to the team culture rather than one who brings more of the same. When I’m in org design meetings I often times ask myself, does this team feel/look like a stack or like a puzzle? Puzzle pieces are different, but complement each other to form a whole. A stack is just more of the same – how boring!

What I ask myself:

  • Will this candidate add to the healthy debate (creative friction) we need?
  •  Does the candidate bring new energy to the table?
  • Did we get more of the same or a hire with a new perspective to round us out?

The benefit: More creative friction.

2. Customer Empathy

Now more than ever, companies are selling experiences, not products. So candidates need to have a customer mindset. When I ask questions like, “Tell me about your business model,” I look for whether or not they weave in the customer without being prompted. I want to know that they have some OCD (Obsessive Customer DNA). These are people that excel at “context switching” and always innovate on behalf of what’s best for the customer.

What I ask myself:

  • Does candidate lead first with their expertise or with customer needs?
  • How customer obsessive will this hire be?
  • Does candidate have a KPI around customer satisfaction that is feverishly monitored?

The benefit: No silo-ed selfishness.

3. Critical Thinking

I worry when someone says an interview felt like or should feel like a conversation. Don’t get me wrong, the experience should be amicable and pleasant. The candidate experience matters. But, they should also feel like working sessions that allow the hiring panel to walk away with a) implementable advice and b) having learned something new.

So, it’s not about having the right answers per se — more so, it’s the strength of the questions asked. I want to know how they think, form judgements and add value to the business. Btw, it turns out great candidates love to be challenged because they want to earn their spot on the best teams. Strong candidates are always weary, as they should be, if the interviews were too easy — that’s a red flag!

What I ask myself:

  • Did it feel like a working session?
  • Did I learn something new?
  • Can we implement new advice?

The benefit: Someone who provokes new thinking.

Do you have enough #OddlyAttractive on your team?