One of the hardest things (at least for me) is hiring people. The way the system works is just weird: A stranger applies for a job for reasons and motivations unbeknownst to you. You review their CV (which on average exaggerates their accomplishments), get on the phone with them and later interview them (where both of you bullshit at least a little bit). All in all, you might have spent a few hours with them – trying to assess if they not only bring the required skills but also are a cultural fit.
That is all there is before making a decision of often fundamental importance. A hire gone wrong can put a serious dent on your plans for world domination, whereas a perfect hire can catapult your organization onto a whole new trajectory.
In this whole process we oftentimes over-rotate on either credentials (“Went to Stanford, must be good”) or fit (“I really like him”). A friend of mine recently brought a different take on this – outside of the question if someone is capable of doing the job (the skills), focus on “Distance travelled.”
“Distance traveled” are all the things someone did which make them interesting, demonstrate their curiosity, drive and orientation toward action. The things which push someone out of their comfort zone and make them see the world with different eyes. And most (if not all) of the time these things have little to do with their formal training or profession.
The best people I ever worked with were not only wicked smart but have covered enormous amounts of distance. They disappeared for a year to surf around the world, build an orphanage in rural Africa, taught themselves coding just to create an art project. They had stories to tell and perspectives to share.
Next time you interview a candidate look and optimize for “distance traveled” (and maybe add some distance to your life as well).