Hiring Questions From Warren Buffet and Phil Libin : Under30CEO Hiring Questions From Warren Buffet and Phil Libin : Under30CEO
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Hiring Questions From Warren Buffet and Phil Libin

| July 4, 2013 | 4 Comments

buffettHiring the right people to work for you is one of the most important (and overlooked) aspects of growing a business.  As entrepreneurs, you’re often required to wear many hats – from making sure your product maintains quality standards, hopping on sales calls, prospecting or doing customer service, your hands are completely tied.  It’s a little more manageable when you’re doing everything on your own but it gets a bit more complex when you have to start bringing on people to help out.

I’ve made my share of hiring mistakes in the past but the good thing is I’ve learned to refine this process where I’m now at the point where the team members I hire are very strong.  Part of this process involved looking into how people like Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffet hire.  I’ve distilled this down to 4 questions you must ask yourself when hiring your next team member.  Remember, your team members are gold – without them, you won’t be able to reach your dreams so choose them very carefully.

Here are 4 questions you must ask yourself before bringing someone aboard:

1. Would I Admire This Person?

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos asks himself this question when hiring someone because it helps answer a lot of other questions about the candidate.  If you admire someone, it means they likely possess other qualities that are essential for initial hires.

For example, I recently had an applicant that explained a story about how he came up with multiple solutions to connect with people that could potentially help promote his boss’s new book.  It wasn’t easy, but he was able to connect with 30% of his target list to help with promotion.

This tells me two things: this candidate is creative and persistent.  That made it very easy for me to answer ‘yes’ when I asked myself whether I would admire this person or not.

2. Do I Like This Person?

Warren Buffet always makes sure that he actually likes the person before hiring them.  The truth is that if you don’t like a person for any reason, it makes it that much tougher to get things done. This is especially important in the startup phase because you’re going to be going to war for 40 hours a week and you want your initial hires to be someone that will do whatever it takes to help you win.

3. Is This Person Smarter Than Me?

Phil Libin from Evernote tries to hire people that are smarter than him because it helps solve his micromanagement issues.  The great thing about smart people is that they get things done on their own. If they can’t figure something out, they’ll find a way. No matter what it takes.

Your job as a founder is to make sure you are eventually the dumbest person at the company.  How confident would you be if everyone at the company was better than you?

4. Would I Trust This Person?

Warren Buffet looks for three qualities when hiring someone and the most important one is integrity:

“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. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

No integrity = no trust.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how talented or experienced someone is if you can’t trust them. If they lie to your face about one thing, then what’s to stop them from doing other harmful things behind your back. You absolutely must be able to trust every person you hire.


Although these questions seem to be very high level, the minute you ask yourself these questions, you’ll start to realize whether a candidate really fits in with your company or not. Questions like these help set the bar really high for incoming hires and will pay dividends down the road.

What are some other strong hiring questions you use?

Eric Siu is an entrepreneur and internet marketer based in Los Angeles. He co-runs Storemapper, a store locator widget for e-commerce stores and other businesses. He previously led the growth team at online education startup Treehouse and consulted for various Fortune 500 companies. 

Image Credit:www.ikkotrader.com

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Category: Entrepreneurship, Startup Advice

  • Mike Darche

    “Your job as a founder is to make sure you are eventually the dumbest person at the company.”–I think there’s a lot of value in this perspective. It can be tough looking at yourself this way, but If you can find A list people who fit within your culture, you’ll have the workings of a great organization…Good advice!

  • http://Under30CEO.com/ Jared O’Toole

    Do I like the person? – Simple but Great. It’s easy to find the person with the most experience or best qualifications. However, they must fit with you and your team.

  • Wholesome Homes

    This article reminds me of Robert Kiyosaki’s new book, Why A Students Work For C Students. Great article!

  • cesar romero

    Absolutely Love this!!! Has nothing to do with experience or qualifications but about trust, likeness, and the possibility of this person becoming smarter than you, and you usually find that out when the person does whatever it takes to get things done!!! I would pick anyone with these traits and with basic or no experience at all, because it’s only a matter of time before they get to that point; awesome article!!!