I just watched an excellent video of Pixar’s hiring practices with Randy Nelson (Dean of Pixar University).
Two core principles they use when interviewing come from the world of comedy improv:
1. Accept every offer
2. Make your partner look good
Accept every offer means if you’re doing a skit as part of an interview, and your partner says: “Boy it sure is raining in outside.” You don’t look up at the ceiling and say “No it isn’t.” You reply, “Well that’s why they gave us these umbrellas!”. You accept what your partner has offered, and do you best to make them look good.
Pixar likes people who are very good at certain things. The problem is that a lot of the things they would like people to be good at have never been done before and require a lot of innovation.
NASA had the same problem when they were looking to find people to walk on the moon. No one had done it before. And they realized that looking at resumes purely for depth wasn’t going to get them their candidate.
So instead, they look for mastery. People who have truly mastered things in their lives demonstrate a mindset, and level of commitment that is proof they can do it again in other areas. It’s not a promise. It’s not an intention. They’ve done it before and then can do it again.
The other thing Pixar looks for is breadth. Pixar likes to see breadth in their people because a broad range of interests means that people will have a much better chance of communicating with people they need to collaborate with.
A programmer who’s interested in art is going be able to communicate his or her ideas more clearly when collaborating with an illustrator.
Watch the video
If you’re interested in learning more about one of the world’s truly innovative companies, watch this video (it’s only 10 min).
Share – learn – grow.