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Two simple rules to hiring the best

Barry Cooks, VP of Engineering –

When I started to write this blog post, I titled it “Two simple rules to hiring the best in IT.” After a few paragraphs, I realized that these tips aren’t limited to just information technology careers, but are actually solid guidelines to hiring in any position. No matter the industry or the position being filled, hiring is not an easy process; it is challenging and time-consuming and unfortunately, what often occurs is the wrong person is placed in a role just to fill the role quickly and allow the hiring manager to return his or her focus to core business processes.

Building a team of highly functioning, interactive, innovative individuals can be extremely daunting, so to simplify the process, I follow two rules: hire people smarter than you and don’t hire jerks.

Hire people smarter than you.

While it may seem straightforward, a lot of managers struggle with this concept. Often, the fear of looking less intelligent drives managers to avoid hiring individuals who are intimidatingly bright. This practice makes no sense; we should all be trying to raise the bar in our organizations, bringing in the best and brightest available to add their expertise for the betterment of the company as a whole. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats: if the collective knowledge and experience of the company expands, everyone benefits. Furthermore, hiring smart people and bringing in new perspectives pushes the existing team to grow and learn more themselves—which also elevates the company’s collective knowledge base all around. A win-win!

Implement a strict “no jerks” policy.

My first point notwithstanding, smart or not, I won’t hire someone who will potentially have a negative impact on team culture. The importance of culture can’t be overstated; it is the fundamental factor in whether someone stays with a company. Today’s workplace is demanding; people work long hours and are expected to give a substantial effort to their organizations. With some of the hardest-working people in high tech, Virtual Instruments is no exception! That level of energy and commitment is hard to sustain when your employees don’t enjoy spending time with their coworkers. This concept is why, in my opinion, smart takes a back seat to attitude and personality.

As you start weeding through candidate resumes and determining your top prospects, you’ll of course need to apply additional criteria around the industry, position requirements and the nuances of your own workplace. If you start by setting these two simple rules as guidelines, you will set the stage for hiring smart, talented workers who enhance your company’s culture and help drive your business goals and objectives.

Interested in working with folks like Barry? Check out Virtual Instruments’ careers page for open position listings.