Damaged goods: why you should hire the “scarred” worker

Looking for the bright, breezy, cheerful candidate? Scared of the guy who seems to have had a lot of knocks? One top CEO says your priorities are backwards

It’s easy to be impressed by a smile and a bright shiny demeanour – just like it’s easy to be put off by someone who seems like they might have gone through the wringer in the past, but one CEO says he’s looking for scars when he’s hiring.

Citrix CEO Mark Templeton talked about some of the standards when the New York Times asked him about his hiring strategy – alignment of values, self-motivation. But he also told the paper that he was looking for scars.

“You can call it wisdom, you can call it experience, or the things that went wrong in your life. That’s where I think knowledge turns into wisdom,” Templeton said. “A lot of people will have facts and information. I’m looking for wisdom, and wisdom ends up being a measure of scars, and things that went wrong and what you did about them and how they shaped you as a person and your beliefs.”

Templeton also looked for signs of curiosity in candidates, saying it was a measure of self-motivation. “People who are curious will develop themselves, they’ll discover things, they’ll invent things. You look for demonstrations of curiosity, because that is where someone has done something on their own time that’s outside the band of what they would normally be doing.”

Finally, he wants people with their own opinions, rather than those who are second-guessing themselves trying to please him.

“With people who have worked for me and failed, the pattern is that they’re trying to guess what I believe and they’re trying to tell me what they think I want to hear,” Templeton said. “I know what my opinions are. I want your opinions and I want them to be something that you have some belief in and a reason to believe in them, and I want to know why.”

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