Buffet’s best advice…

Who you should hire… And how to apply it

“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.”
Warren Buffet

Certainly IQ is critical in hiring people who can make good decisions, both on their own or within a team.  Integrity is the life blood of trust in a company. When you have trust within an organisation, teams will make quicker decisions and individuals will become more confident in taking the risks necessary to grow the business or to stretch the product without constantly checking with senior management.

But, without integrity found your people, you won’t be enabled to build trust.

Growing your company takes endless amounts of your time and energy and the time and energy of your team members.  This is simply due to the long days, high stress levels, and (in some cases) constant travel associated in building small companies and in growing large companies. Seek energetic people who have demonstrated that they can maintain a high level of energy and relentless drive and have avoided stress related burn out — physical and mental.

The lesson for you is to assess whether this candidate sitting in front of you, possesses these three attributes. I suggest that you be quite open about this in the interview by asking direct questions.



A tip on assessing IQ, and whether the person is made of as quickly as possible is to ask them to give you the ‘short version’ of their career path first — as use this as a de facto IQ test. Many people fail this because they end up talking for a long time — 10 or 15 minutes — because they miss the ‘short’ part of the request entirely. If they aren’t sharp enough to pick up on your intent, they are the sort of people you will have to explain things to in detail

Next ask the candidate to tell you about a time they failed, why, and what they would do different when faced with the same issue again. Someone who can’t think of a time they failed, or has no apparent weaknesses, again doesn’t pass the IQ test.


Consider challenging the candidate about why they switched jobs (especially if the résumé doesn’t add up).  Test for how the interviewee has made their decisions to move. Were they running to something or running away from something? Do they trash their prior manager or previous companies? You are seeking candidates who have managed their career choices, moved to grow their skills and experience, and respect the places they have worked and people they have worked for. No company is perfect, and it’s a sign of integrity to me whether the candidate can be fair and reasonable about their past.


Lastly, getting a tangible sense of someone’s energy can’t be done with a question. For energy assessment its  about how they behave in the room.  Think to yourself, are they engaged with you? Do they physically connect by leaning into the conversation? What is the pace of the discussion? Do they do extreme sports, or run, or chase young children all weekend? And how do they talk about that? These are all indications of their energy levels and an ability to cope with and release stress in their daily lives.


A candidate that is smart, displays integrity, and is energetic, can be successful in your company and can make a difference.  Remember, that IQ, integrity, and energy cannot be taught. These are innate attributes found within certain individuals. So if these attributes are not easily noticeable early during the interviewing process, then they most likely won’t be there once the person is on board.

Have you any interesting hiring approaches, we’d love to hear from you.