Would You Have Hired Steve Jobs?

This short essay is worth reading if you’re in a position to hire or influence hiring or placement on teams at your workplace. I can say unequivocally I would not have hired Steve Jobs. There’s no way I would have been able to discern his strengths in a short interview. That’s a very serious shortcoming and I have no good idea of how to resolve it.

Despite all the technology and experience modern companies have at their disposal to find great employees, many companies (including mine and including me personally) still make bad hires and placements. Reading about Jobs’ qualities in this post, I wouldn’t have considered him after an in-person interview.

Although I currently work on projects using modern and often very complex computing technology, I don’t rely on skills tests as gatekeepers to getting an interview. A college degree in engineering or a hard science is required, but that requirement is imposed by my company. If it were up to me, I’d consider people with proven experience on working applications/products as at least equal to those with college degrees. I hire based on how a person thinks about problems at a high level, whether they have at least some experience in a domain related to the one in which they’ll be working, and whether their personality indicates they’ll be a good fit for the team. I know from my track record with hires that my process is good but far from ideal. I’m always open to improving it.