Hiring right is one of the most challenging jobs in management.

Getting it wrong can cause significant issues in your business that will take considerable time to fix.

But let's be honest, we've all made hiring mistakes. Some bad hires have slipped through the cracks, whether we're in a rush to get a position filled or didn't screen well. So whilst everyone has their view, my view is to listen to people who can demonstrate success.

So this being the case, Warren Buffett, arguably the most successful businessman of all time with an estimated wealth of more than $60b, may be worth listening to. He is known for his no-nonsense, down-to-earth business style, so it's no surprise that the three main qualities Buffett looks for are simple and common sense. "Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you. So you think about it; it's true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy." – Warren Buffett.

1. Intelligence.

It sounds simple, but intelligence can be one of the hardest to spot as there are so many times of intelligence. The first step is to understand what type of intelligence is vital for the role you're trying to fill. For example, if you're hiring a restaurant waiter, you may want social and organisational intelligence. On the other hand, if you want a programmer, social intelligence may not matter, but organisational and planning intelligence may be critical. Once you have defined the type of intelligence you seek, the next step is to measure it. Puzzles, games, tests and interviews are great ways to gain insight into each candidate's areas of strength and intelligence. As the screening process continues, challenge their problem-solving skills, strategic abilities and ingenuity in the areas important to you.

2. Energy.

For most roles, energy is vital, be it physical or mental. It would be best if you had someone who can be put under pressure and consistently find the energy to deliver consistently daily. So again, it's great to think about the type of energy necessary for success before hiring begins. Once you know what you're looking for, energy is reasonably easy to spot. Body language, dialogue and facial expressions are all great indicators of energy levels.

3. Integrity.

Of the three main qualities Buffett looks for in the hiring process, integrity is the most important. Most skills and attitudes can be taught or coached, but a lack of integrity will inevitably lead to a lack of trust. When someone is untrustworthy, that impacts every aspect of their life, and work is a major one. Asking a candidate about reasons for leaving their previous jobs and tricky 'grey area' scenario questions will go a long way to under covering the 'core' of the person.

So there you have it, Warren's top 3 things to look for with hiring new staff. I can't argue with his proven track record over many decades, so chances are this will be the best bit of advice you will ever receive regarding hiring new staff.

If you find the candidate to have high levels of intelligence and energy but have a 'gut feel' about their level of integrity….run for the hills.

Don't rush recruitment; be patient to find the right person who ticks all three boxes.


Simon Ingleson

CEO/Founder @ RosterElf

Magically Simple Rostering Software