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[ 2 ] Aug. 1, 2012 | SBO Editor

7 steps to finding key players just like Steve Jobs did at Apple.

By Patrick Valtin

Jim was the perfect candidate with many years of solid experience as a professional sales rep and had an obvious talent of persuasion and communication skills. But the hiring manager had some strong reservations during the interview. Jim’s strong focus on results “right now” and a certain aggressiveness that could probably overwhelm or upset clients were some of the weaknesses he was concerned about.

In regard to Jim’s focus on the purposes of the company, its role in the community, the vital importance of innovation and unselfish dedication to excellence, he did the perfect job. He sold himself like never before and got hired.

Four months later, Jim was fired for lack of vision, lack of dedication and worst of all, for his lack of honesty.

The manager knew he had to hire “the Steve Jobs way,” but had no real clue as to how to do it. He hired what he saw and what he heard “at the moment.”

Steve Jobs was an amazing and unconventional leader in many respects. His reputation as the best entrepreneur of our time can be summarized in a few words: he and his top execs never compromised with the talents and qualifications required of their employees. He personally interviewed over 5,000 applicants during his career. He and his executives considered very different qualities in people than most business owners do. When you thoroughly analyze Apple’s philosophy of hiring, you find out that there have always been fundamental, un-compromising attributes needed to get a job at Apple, Inc.

You too can apply these attributes when you look at attracting top players and ensure you avoid troublemakers. To help you in the hiring process, here are the main “Apple selection attributes.”

Vision-minded. Everyone joining the company must have a clear picture of its management vision – and fully agree to fight for it, to defend it and to live with it every day. Applicants who do not seem to get it are systematically rejected. When you hire people who don’t seem to agree with, or care about your company vision, you are potentially employing future enemies.

Innovation-minded. Steve Jobs always emphasized the vital importance of hiring people who are innovative – willing to create something from nothing. Applicants are first chosen for their ability and willingness to constantly create, rather than for their technical competence.

Future-minded. Employees at Apple are driven by their leader’s vision of the future and they contribute every day to creating the future, more than just beating the competition. Each of them owns the future of the market because they know they can contribute to creating it. The eagerness to create, not follow the future is a vital attribute observed in top players no matte what the industry.

Passion-minded. Steve Jobs’ first principle is: “Do what you love.” People are hired because they love the product, the company and its vision. Applicants who do not demonstrate a genuine passion and “love” for the company’s purposes and business philosophy will never make it.

Contribution-minded. A statement given by an Apple recruiter is clear enough: “We didn’t want someone who desired to retire with a gold watch. We wanted entrepreneurs, demonstrated winners, high-energy contributors who defined their previous role in terms of what they contributed.”

Engagement-minded. Over two thirds of Americans are not engaged in their workplace. Apple management is strict on employees’ level of commitment. Committed individuals who are inspired by a grand purpose make the whole difference in the most competitive conditions.

Excellence-minded. Steve Jobs was known for his passion of perfection. The company always tries things out until they are perfectly done. The same attitude is expected of every collaborator. Applicants who do not share that passion for excellence do not have a chance.

You will notice that these 7 points enforced in Apple’s personnel selection are all personality-related attributes, also called soft skills. They do not always guarantee performance. But the chance of selecting productive people is at least 200% higher when focusing on these vital soft skills. It is very well known that recruiters who focus on soft skills in their personnel selection process are, on average, 50% more effective in selecting top players.

So, in order to avoid falling in the momentary personality trap – as the hiring manager in the above example did, you should also focus on the following two basic soft skills:

Honesty. Did you know that one third of all business failures in the USA are due to employee theft? Also, 95% of all US companies are victims of theft and yet only 10% ever discover it.

Willingness. According to the US Department of Labor, more than 87% of employee failures are due to unwillingness to do the job. You can’t simply force someone to do something if they do not want to. Such persons will do what you want in order to keep their job or to avoid penalties. But they will not put their heart into it.      •

Patrick Valtin is the author of No Fail Hiring and a 24-year veteran coach and trainer in the fields of management and human resources. He is the President of M2-TEC USA, Inc. Patrick has personally trained 85,000 business owners and executives of over 30 countries in the last 23 years, on the subjects of business strategies, leadership and people management; hiring, sales and marketing. For more information, visit www.nofailhiring.com, www.m2-tec.com or call 877-831 2299.


We all send out signals and communication with the way we move, gesture, sit and stand. It is important to check ourselves. Do you know people who tend to frown, tighten their jaws, or make other facial expressions that can lead to negative impressions? Make sure you are not one of these negative non-verbal communicators.

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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities Nov 2012

  • Otra Vez Vintage

    Very inspiring article. I especially related to the quote from the late Steve Jobs: “Do what you love.”. I really need to hear that as I continue to pursue my dream occupation.

  • Krishna

    good post