The 3 traits I hire for (and the ones for which I don’t)

Benoit HENRY
Jan 19, 2018 · 3 min read

I have been part of an extraordinary journey during the last 6 years at WAX Interactive Switzerland. Our team has grown from 3 to 35 talented people and I had the chance to meet and interview almost every new hire.

Today, hiring new team members is part of my job. I am delighted to meet new people, discover their stories, understand where they come from. It is a great source of learning.

Over the years, our team expanded and I understood that I needed a radical change in my recruitment approach. The transition from a small team of 10 to a group of 35 is a big deal. Interpersonal relationships evolve along with ways of working. I radically switched from a deep skillset analysis of each candidate to values and mindset.

You have a fast expanding team? Congratulations!
If you’re having doubts about your hiring strategy, perhaps using these three traits will be helpful:

Team spirit

  • Collaboration: How does the candidate work with others, what tools and rituals do they use.
  • Shared goals: Check that they are in line with the team’s common values and beliefs.

Try to avoid: Lone wolves, candidates that are not team — and client — oriented.

Openness

  • Empathy: Do they have the ability to listen? Do they already show interest and curiosity about their coworkers’ jobs?
  • Transparency: What does transparency mean to them? Challenge their ability to receive feedback.

Try to avoid: Candidates that are not human-centered, or who lack optimism.

Love and energy

  • Passion: Ask what motivates them to get up and come to work everyday. Ask what resonates with them in the job description.
  • Autonomy: make sure they have a bias toward action, are self-starters, can manage themselves and can proactively help others.

Try to avoid: Candidates who obsess about boundaries and silos, and sit idle with a wait-and-see attitude.


A couple of months ago, Andrea, our Creative Director, asked for a few minutes of my time, just before lunch break. He wanted to introduce me to a promising candidate for our design team.

After a quick look at his portfolio, listening to his background and experience speech, I was impressed by his amazing designer skills and brilliant creative spirit. I felt relieved: he was the perfect match for the job, passionate about creating top-quality work. We started talking about his working habits, the way he imagines collaboration with the team and with the clients and… My enthusiasm vanished. His previous job experiences demonstrated a mindset that was diametrically opposed to ours.

After the interview, Andrea and I debriefed over lunch and agreed quickly on our next step. This candidate would have been a strong asset to the agency, but not to the team and to our values— and in the end, that is what actually matters. We immediately stopped the hiring process with this candidate, and recalibrated our approach for further interviews.


Using these three traits as a guide, I feel proud to be part of a company that creates places for newcomers to shape their jobs on demand, based on their skills, mindset and personal desires.

Benoit HENRY

Written by

Lean startup, Digital, Marketing, Design (UX/UI), Project management, here and there…

Generous Tomorrows

The adventures of SQLI Switzerland, a jolly band of misfits who team up with visionary clients so they can build a bolder, more generous future.

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