Guest Blog: How to Hire People Smarter Than You

As a manager, hiring the right people is one of your most important responsibilities. That’s why you should look for candidates who are smarter than you.

hire people smarter than you

Hiring the candidate you can learn from the most provides you with opportunities to grow not only your department or organization, but also your own individual skill set.

By enlisting the most intelligent people you can find, you can witness the measurable impact this can have through employee performance evaluations, and how it changes your own management strategy.

Obviously, factors like experience and professional qualifications are important.

However, potential hires often have very similar experience and qualifications. You need to assess other factors to determine who would make the best addition to your team.

The benefits of intelligent employees

Too many managers limit their own growth potential for a reason that is easy to understand: they fear that hiring someone more intelligent or talented than they are will make them look bad in the long run.

Instead of seeing a remarkably bright candidate as a potential resource, they perceive them as a threat. They also worry about their ability to manage and coach someone who may be more qualified than they are. Thus, they deny themselves the chance to take advantage of another person’s strengths.

Don’t fall into this trap.

Establishing a company culture in which every member of the team is encouraged to constantly learn helps to sustain enthusiasm and improve overall performance. Make sure you embody this value by hiring people whose intelligence motivates you to learn even more.

Your employees will be more likely to focus on developing their own skills if they know you’re doing the same. More importantly, hiring smart people enhances the performance of other team members, just like drafting the best player improves the overall record of a sports team.

Finding and hiring smart people

Making the decision to hire candidates who are smarter than you is just one step. You also need to find them.

Start by clearly defining what an “intelligent employee” or “A player” looks like to your team.

Write down not only what type of experience and qualifications you’re looking for, but also what general and specific traits you’re seeking in an employee. Take the extra step to validate your criteria by looking at your existing A players. One way to do this is by using technology that assesses employees’ qualifications and finds candidates who match them.

Once you have your criteria in place, resolve only to hire people who meet or exceed them.

Next, make sure your interview process is designed to make it clear whether a potential employee fits your criteria.

One of the best involves to do this is by relying on your team to help with the decision. It makes sense to give team members the opportunity to spend some time with a potential candidate first.

During this phase of the interview process, questions shouldn’t be rigorous; you just want people whose opinions you value to get a general sense of the candidate.

If they give their approval, it’s time for you to get involved.

This is where you can ask more direct, specific questions to learn about a candidate’s concrete skillset. Consider including situational interview questions that ask candidates how they would react to workplace scenarios.

The hybrid approach allows you to cover all the important factors. During your questioning, you’ll still review a potential hire’s experience and qualifications, but during the initial meeting with other team members, you’ll learn about the traits that are difficult to list on a resumé.

By successfully attracting intelligent people, you’ll further enrich your workplace environment and culture.

Remember, there’s always room to grow: Hire people you can learn from.

Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.