Of the traits I look for in new employees, intelligence is not in the top three

Shocked?  I was, too.  But last week I was ranking a group of traits, and I found intelligence consistently falling somewhere between 3 and 8, depending on the granularity of the list.  Wow.  I look at it this way: There’s no such thing as too hard-working.  There is such thing as too smart.

The most common failing I’ve seen in consultants, both senior and junior, is hubris.  Hubris’ co-pilot is usually intelligence (or, more accurately, perceived intelligence).  Confidence is important, but only when balanced by humility.  I’ve known far too many people who combine intelligence with confidence and attitude and stop working hard.  Instead of prolific production of amazing work, these people work hard only when absolutely necessary and otherwise find ways to do the minimum level required to succeed.  

Hard-working, energetic, thoughtful, team-first employees are always at the top of my list.

I like people who know they don’t know everything.  Who ask for help when they need it, and gladly help others when they see an opportunity.  That’s not as common as I’d like.  As a team of hard workers with great attitudes, I think I could do almost anything.  We’ll learn whatever we need to learn, take pride in our work, and keep pushing until it’s done right.

Contrastingly, sometimes working with a team of super-smart people is like herding cats and squirrels.  I can’t speak for other employers and recruiters, but I bet they value these traits as well.  Especially for junior-level roles, where they’re looking for willingness to learn, to do whatever needs be done, and to grow personally and professionally with the company and whatever opportunities are presented.

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One response to “Of the traits I look for in new employees, intelligence is not in the top three

  1. Pingback: How can you tell if someone’s arrogant? | Get a Leg Up

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