- Luis von Ahn is the CEO of the language-learning app Duolingo and one of the creators of CAPTCHA technology.
- When hiring new employees, von Ahn said that “it’s better to have a hole than an a–hole.”
- That means it’s better to have an opening in your company than to rush into hiring the wrong person just to fill it.
Hiring the right person is an important responsibility.
For Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn, it is better to leave a position open than to hire the wrong person. Von Ahn follows the hiring rule that “it’s better to have a hole than an a–hole,” he told Business Insider for our podcast “Success! How I Did It.”
“It is really detrimental to the organisation when you hire people who are not very nice,” von Ahn said.
The CEO of the language-learning app, which is valued at $US700 million, and one of the creators of CAPTCHA technology admitted that being patient for the right job candidate can be difficult. “When you’re hiring, and particularly for a startup, you’re usually pretty strapped for time,” von Ahn said.
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He continued: “We’ve been looking for this position for months and this person’s almost good, but they just have this one little problem. There’s always a huge desire to try to hire them and maybe that problem will not manifest in the company.”
Von Ahn believes that it’s better to have a position go unfilled for a length of time than to quickly fill the job with someone who will bring the team down. He would prefer employees who are competent and enjoyable to work with, and would rather wait for the right candidate to come along than hire somebody who ruins the company culture.
“That has worked pretty well for me,” von Ahn said about his hiring approach. “Duolingo is a very nice company; everybody here is pretty nice. We’re very proud of the fact that we have no a–holes.”
Discovering whether a job applicant is a good person and employee during the hiring process can be difficult. Von Ahn said that poor candidates aren’t obvious, but there is a way to detect them.
“Nobody tells you during a reference check that somebody is an a–hole,” he said. “You ask, ‘are they good at working with others?’ and the type of thing they would tell you is, like, ‘yes, it depends on the person.’ If they say that, that usually means they’re an a–hole.”
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