Juuhi Ahuja knows uses a simple phrase to describe what it takes to find the talent that has helped her company, Wise Men Consultants, earn a spot on recent lists of Houston area fast-growing companies multiple times.
“We are a fast-paced, aggressively growing company, so getting the people who have the required level of ‘fire in the belly’ to grow both professionally and financially is my biggest challenge,” says Ahuja, founder, president and CEO of the $29 million business, which has grown since 1997 from a staffing company to a provider of international full-range solutions.
“It’s about attracting and keeping the good talent who can be the right mentor to the company’s younger talent and be interested in growing.”
Smart Business spoke with Ahuja on how she finds employees with an inner glow that guides them to success.
Q. What initial approach should a company take in finding the right talent?
I have made a lot of mistakes along the way, not that the talent was wrong, but the fit was not right. But I would say that more than anything else, when you look for a person, look for similarities in attitude. That is an important key because that will make or break the person.
You may not even mind hiring people who have less talent and less experience as long as they portray the right attitude, which resonates with your philosophy.
Putting a candidate through several interviews takes time but it is better than making mistakes. We’ve had to fire people because they did not have the ‘fire in the belly’ that we were looking for. So take your time. It also proves that the candidate is genuinely interested if he will wait to go through your process. Weed out the people who are just looking to make a jump for the sake of a jump.
Q. What other qualities should an interviewer look for in a candidate?
Look for people who are good solution providers ― somebody who should be able to take no for an answer and be persistent but at the same time know that knocking on this door is not going to bear any fruit.
You want somebody who believes in intuition, or a gut feeling. You want somebody who is a person who believes in data, but backs it up with 20 percent intuition. The way I define intuition is a good feeling, or bad feeling, in the gut, combined with market intelligence and hard data of some success stories with clients ― and just an inside feeling that yes, this will work.
Q. While an interviewer can’t spot ‘fire in the belly’ by looking at a candidate, are there any outward signs, such as body language, that are helpful in evaluating a job seeker?
It is in the person’s best interest to find something (that) he is passionate about, and it is also in your best interests to find a passionate person for the job. Passion is what you really look for in people ― that they should run to work.
Yes. Not walk to work. I think it is very true that people who walk fast think fast and tend to act fast. People who have a sluggish gait or … I can’t say talk very slowly because I have had very, very good luck with people who talk slowly and measured, but I have very accurate insight into intuition and gut feelings. I have found that somebody who is open, gregarious, walks fast and enjoys a fast pace is more successful.
Q: What also increases your odds of getting a good fit?
It is also about letting a person flourish. If the environment is not to the employee’s liking, he is not going to be as excited. I think excitement and enthusiasm are keys to life. Life is really beautiful. You don’t want to go into an environment that irritates you and irks you on a daily basis.
I mean life is so beautiful; it can’t be wasted. I have had employees say this is the best place I have worked for, and I know they are protecting themselves. We may still let them go after giving them two or three notices. They are not doing themselves a service or realizing that they need not be in this environment but need to be in a different one, which will make them come alive.
How to reach: Wise Men Consultants, (281) 679-6740 or www.wisemen.net