Richard Branson - the legendary founder of Virgin Group - runs an empire of 200 companies ranging from healthcare to hotels, and even space tourism. He once admitted that an important part of his success is hiring the right people. In fact, Branson believes that having the right team is the single most important thing you can do for a business, seeing your people as "the biggest asset and the lifeblood of your brand".
Here are the five principles he followed to hire the people who would lead Virgin to ultimate success:
1. Personality is definitely the most important factor
The first thing Branson looks for in a partner is character. This is the most important thing for a successful business, he says, because job-specific skills and knowledge can later be trained, but not personality.
“We are looking for people who are friendly, caring, and know how to work with others,” he once wrote. “From airlines to our customer service centers, to our office buildings to our gym floors, you will always find smiling people working together to get the job done. . They keep our company culture vibrant.”
To find out if they're a good fit, Virgin asks candidates questions like, “Tell me about a time when you were agitated by a customer/employee/manager, what did you do in that situation? ” Or, “Why should we choose you over other candidates?”
2. New hires don't have to 'fit in' right away
Companies often worry about people being “the right fit,” as spirit and culture are important ingredients for business success. But, according to Branson, don't hesitate to hire someone who isn't perfect in the first place.
"Some of the best people we've hired didn't seem like the right fit at first, but have proven themselves to be indispensable over time." Branson acknowledges those differences lead to opportunities to see problems that others don't, and to spread new inspiration, energy, and creativity.
3. Define your company's purpose to attract the right people
If you are a growing business on a small budget, how can you afford to pay top talent to attract them to work? Branson's advice is simple: "Find people who share your passion." But to do this, you must first define your purpose. Branson recommends asking yourself, “Who is your product or service aimed at? How can your product or service improve the lives and needs of consumers?”
4. Hire people with skills you lack
When looking for good employees, look for people who can fill your skills gap. Think about the areas where the company can improve and hire people who can improve the potential problems. “I bring together people with knowledge and talent in areas where I might not be well versed,” says Branson.
5. Don't hire too many people if you can help your team
When companies are in rapid growth mode, they tend to hire a lot of people. This can kill company culture, Branson warns, as new hires "rush in the door" without going through a specific selection process. It doesn't matter Virgin's current successes and size, Richard Branson still believes that talent is the number one driver of success. Nothing is more important in business than hiring the right people.