How to Hire For Hustle
At marlo marketing, one of our core beliefs is “good things come to those who hustle.” I am 110% of the belief that hustling is not a skill that can be taught; it’s an approach to life that you either do or don’t have.
When your company’s internal motto is “Get Shit Done,” hiring for hustle is CLEARLY a NEED. Over the almost 15 years we’ve been in business, we’ve done a great job of hiring for hustle and we’ve done a not so great job hiring for hustle. I’ve been thinking about it lately, and noodling over the idea of how to get our average up. There must be a way to test for hustle-ability in the interview process, right? If we can just figure it out, we’d be batting a thousand. And I always want to bat 100 because, efficiency!
So I did what any diligent researcher would do – I googled. And, believe it or not, there are some pretty good tips out there on the interwebz. My favorite came in the form of the article “Hiring Hustlers: How do Determine What Interview Questions to Ask” by This Is Nadya.
She immediately gets points in my book for also recognizing that a hustler cannot be trained, and extra credit for confirming my belief that they are, indeed, very hard to find. She writes:
“Why is it so hard to find hustlers?
I ask myself this question a lot, and it has led to another question, which is “Can someone be trained to become a hustler?”
Personally, I think the answer to that question is no. Simply being that not everyone is particularly interested in doing what it takes to be successful, and not everyone comes away from failure a stronger person.”
Then she goes on to share the ways she’s found to help identify hustlers. I highly encourage you to read her article in full, but I’ve lifted two of my favorites below. For the lazy amongst us, you’re welcome.
The first has to do with HOW people speak their minds, which I interpret as ‘how people contribute to the greater good of the organization with their ideas and opinions.’
“There are two kinds of people who speak their minds. The first kind are speaking just for the sake of speaking. The second kind actually have something to contribute to the conversation. Hustlers speak their mind. But only when there is something of value to add. The other speaks because no one else is speaking. These are the douchebags of the world.”
Then she offers two possible questions to ask interviewees to find out which category your candidate falls into:
- When looking at our company/product, what is something that you think should change? Why?
- What is a question that I should have asked you during this interview but didn’t?
Why are these questions important?
“These two questions force the candidate to think critically not just about your business, but about the overall interview process. Both of these questions require the candidate to 1) do their research about company, and 2) listen carefully. The more specific the candidate’s responses and the more thought they put into their answers, the easier it will be to identify whether they speak to add value or speak empty words.”
Probably not a surprise that this next one also jumped out at me, internal company motto and all. For me, it’s never been about a sweatshop mentality; rather, it’s about finding people who take complete responsibility for what is on their plate. Those are the people who help you grow your team, period. It’s not about hours, it’s about ownership.
“Finally you want to figure out whether the person you are interviewing works to get the job done, or just puts in their hours…. Hustlers almost always makeup the 20% [of most productive employees]. The reason being, they work until a task is done, not just to log their hours. Hustlers get shit done.”
I loved these questions she offered to get to the root of hustle-dom:
- Have you ever asked for an extension on an assignment or a task? Why or why not?
- When was the last time, if ever, that you stayed late at the office or at school? What was it for?
“What’s important to note about these questions, is that it doesn’t matter if they said yes or not. What matters is the why. If the candidate asked for an extension on an assignment because they waited until the last minute to even look at it, they may not fall into the 20% bracket. If they stayed late at the office to finish a task before a deadline, or better yet, to get a head start on another project, you know they work to complete the job and not just to log their hours. The why always outweighs the what.”
So, starting tomorrow, we’re spicing up our interview game with some new questions. Non-hustlers? Beware!