In The Trenches

Are they, like, really smart?

Published on January 9, 2018 Back to blog
Donald Trump Tweet next to Fire and Fury Book

This weekend, while I was in Albany celebrating my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday (big shout out to Grandma Bette here), I found myself drawn to the TV in her living room, listening to the heated debates and tweets about the new politically-charged book, Fire and Fury

I have yet to read anything more than the excerpt in New York Magazine. However, recognizing that the heart of the controversy revolves around a major hiring decision by the voting American public, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the key indicators I’ve learned to look for when determining the intelligence and stability of potential job candidates. 

While these indicators do not always work perfectly (I’ve definitely made some hiring mistakes in my time), I’ve found that they work with the majority of candidates (as demonstrated by the amazing people/talent we have here at Small Army). Here they are:

Question intelligence when:

  1. They continually tell you how smart they are – If they feel the need to tell you, it often means that they will be unable to show you.
  2. They take credit for everything – Such claims typically translate to mean, “My contribution was highly limited, but I don’t want to admit it” or “I don’t trust anyone else to help me.” Neither is a sign of intelligence (or being a good team player).
  3. They don’t listen – The smartest people are the best listeners (it’s how they gain their intelligence). If you get the sense that someone is not listening, you may want to move on.
  4. They claim to know what they don’t know – It’s smart to admit what you don’t know (showing a willingness to learn). It’s not so intelligent to try and act like you do – more often than not, that approach doesn’t end well.

 Question stability when:

  1. They actively put down others – This is a clear sign that they are in constant fear and always in attack mode – no one needs people like this in their organization.
  2. Their only references are close friends and family members – If a candidate is challenged to share references of people with whom they don’t have a close personal relationship, it may be a sign of trouble.
  3. They’ve never worked for anyone for more than one year – Putting young workforce members aside, this is a big one to watch for. Question why it didn’t work out. And note: being your own boss for more than one year doesn’t count.
  4. They constantly name drop – While some mutual connection-making can be positive, a constant stream of name dropping can indicate a lack of confidence in oneself (and an unhealthy dependency to ride on the coattails of others).

So, the next time you’re making a major hiring decision, I urge you to keep an eye out for these indicators. 

Thanks! And, here’s to a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year for you, your family and your colleagues.

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners