5 check boxes for successful hiring by the world’s best business leader 

  • Tim Neary | August 30, 2019
Scooter mirrors with blind spots

Successful hiring takes discipline - that’s it, says former General Electric CEO Jack Welsh. 

Known as ‘Neutron Jack’ for his brutal and aggressive leadership style, Mr Welsh’s tenure at the global corporation lasted 20 years until his retirement in 2001. During that time GE’s value rose 4,000 per cent.  

“It takes knowing the particular skills and behaviors that your organization needs to win, probing candidates to see if they possess them, and signing on only those who do,” says Mr Welsh.


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But he adds that there are 5 check boxes that run alongside this primary hiring criterion. Mr Welsh calls them the five “blind spot” checks.  

1.    IQ over all 

In today’s business environment, says Mr Welsh, the playing field isn’t level. 

“It tilts toward the team with the smartest people.”

2.    Personality matters

Especially a bad one, says Mr Welsh.

He says unpleasant people have a way of drawing attention to themselves.

“And in a work setting, they can bring a whole team down. 

“Obviously, if a candidate possesses exactly the dazzling technological capabilities you cannot live without, you might make an exception. But, man, should that bar be high” 

3.    Drama free

Mr Welsh says the problem with excess emotionality is that it expands to fill the space available to it.

“People get married and divorced. They buy homes. Most employees know how to handle these life events with the proper amount of sharing. [But] drama-seekers can’t go through them without an audience,” he says.

“Sometimes their talents are worth the cost in lost productivity. But not often.”

4.    The swell factor 

Be on the alert for the person who doesn’t get that they’re just a person, says Mr Welsh.

“Don’t get us wrong,” he says. 

“Healthy confidence is a must-have, but when it seems like someone you’re interviewing for a job might have the propensity to swell instead of grow, that’s an arrogance high-alert. Stay away.”

5.    Face into references

Check the candidate’s references, says Mr Welsh. Like, really check them. 

“Yes, of course, we understand that many reference checks are BS. Either the candidate has handpicked someone who’s going to spew superlatives—why wouldn’t they?—or you end up with an executive who gives you the usual CYA, ‘We don’t discuss former employees’ line.”

But he says don’t leave it at that.

“Bust your butt to find someone who really knows the candidate,” says Mr Welsh.

“Then listen—to what is and isn’t being said,” says Mr Welsh.

“If you’re getting blasé commentary or lack of detail about achievements, do not hold the phone away from your ear, though it will be tempting. Fight also the urge to make excuses for your candidate.” 

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