Steve Jobs was not only a major pioneer of the technology we use today, but also a dedicated human resource leader. In a 1997 interview published in the book In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations with the Visionaries of the Digital World, Jobs revealed his dedication to the hiring process and shared interesting insights into his rather unconventional way of selecting employees for Apple.
Criticize first, then hire
Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 after selling his company NeXT and stated that he was a fifth of his time spent with settings. He personally attended job interviews and oversaw the entire process.
»I dedicate one day a week to helping with recruitment,” he emphasized, adding, “It’s one of the most important jobs you can do.« In the interview, at a time when he was already over two decades of experience Having worked in technology, Jobs also described what he expected applicants to do to gain his approval and what they should do to convince him.
Jobs emphasized that the hiring process of crucial importance because without the right people, it is not possible to bring products to market quickly and successfully, regardless of the number of ideas that an executive might have.
During the interview, Jobs explained how he conducted the selection process with potential candidates. »A lot of times I intentionally annoy someone during an interview by criticizing their previous work. I do some research, find out what he was working on and I’m like, ‘My God, that really was a disaster. Why did you work on it?’«. After this revelation, Jobs further elaborated:
»The worst thing anyone can do in an interview is agree with me and cave in.«
The CEO explained that applicants shouldn’t give up their opinions if they didn’t think what he was saying was true. In other words: He expected them to stand up and defend themselves under pressurewhen confronted with unjustified criticism.
Early in Apple’s founding, Jobs and his team in Cupertino quickly hired many employees. »We just wanted to hire a lot of people who knew more than we did‘ he explained. It wasn’t a problem for them as they didn’t know much themselves either. However, he and his team soon encountered a problem: although they had good employees, they often couldn’t react quickly enough to changing requirements.
After this initial realization, Steve Jobs devoted much more time to the hiring process. He confronted applicants head on and showed them that it took a strong personality to work at a demanding company like Apple.
You can read here why Steve Jobs also didn’t think much of meetings:
Now we want to hear from you: Surely, Steve Jobs’ hiring method wasn’t the only one that was extraordinary or weird. Have you ever been confronted with an unusual question in a job interview? What was your reaction to that? Tell us your stories and experiences in the comments!