The No. 1 trait for every new hire

Pure intelligence is a fundamental characteristic when you’re seeking new employees, but one characteristic supersedes even that. Read on to learn what separates superstars from also-rans.

For 20 years I’ve been hiring and firing people.

For the most part, if you hire the smartest ones of the bunch, you’ll have more good performers than bad performers. That means pure intelligence, not necessarily book smarts.

Just hiring smart people still isn’t the answer. You want to hire good, or great, people every single time. How do you do that? That’s the million-dollar question.

There is one trait we don’t focus enough on, across all industries: optimism. Your best employees almost always have a level of optimism that your lower performers don’t.

They might be optimistic about their future, about the company’s future, about life in general.

Optimistic people find ways to succeed, because they truly believe they will succeed.

Pessimistic people find ways to fail, because they believe they are bound to fail. Recruiting talent can be difficult. Don’t make it more difficult by hiring people who are not optimistic about your company and the opportunity you have for them.

Ask questions in the interview that get to their core belief around optimism:

  • Tell me about something in life you’re are truly optimistic about? (Pessimistic people have a hard time answering this. Optimistic people will answer quickly and with passion.)
  • Tell me about a time something you were responsible for went badly. How did you deal with it?
  • The company has you working on a very important project and then decides to cancel it. How would you respond?

Surrounding yourself with optimistic people drives a better culture and better teams; it’s uplifting to your own leadership style. Find smart people who are optimistic about life. Those people change the world for the better, and they’ll do the same for your business.

A version of this post first appeared on Tim Sackett’s blog.

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