If you take a job at Bridgewater Associates — the world’s largest hedge fund, with $169 billion in assets — you’re agreeing to abide by its founder Ray Dalio’s “Principles,” a manual of 210 musings on management and character.
It serves as an introduction to the hedge fund’s culture of “radical transparency.” At Bridgewater’s Westport, Connecticut headquarters, all meetings and interviews are recorded and logged. Employees are also required to refrain from keeping to themselves criticisms of their colleagues or managers, including him.
To ensure that the right people are recruited, Dalio lays out his hiring philosophy in “Principles.” “Hire right, because the penalties of hiring wrong are huge,” he writes.
Dalio values a person’s character and way of thinking over their skill set, and he has managers express this in Bridgewater’s job postings.
For example, a current posting for a compliance associate states that the team is looking for someone who is “Logical with strong common sense,” “Not afraid to speak up and make suggestions for areas of improvement,” and “Self-aware, reflective, and able to learn from mistakes.”
Dalio writes that instead of trying to overcome the fact that managers have a tendency to look for their own traits in applicants, it is up to the manager to use different team members as specialised interviewers to root out a candidate’s character. “For example, if you’re looking for a visionary, pick a visionary to do the interview where you test for vision,” he writes. “If there is a mix of qualities you’re looking for, put together a group of interviewers who embody all of these qualities collectively.” It’s of utmost importance that you deeply trust these interviewers, he says.
It’s necessary to pay careful attention to someone’s track record, Dalio explains, but to also use references, research, and interviews to understand why candidates made the career decisions they did.
He and his managers look for someone who is just as inquisitive about the company and interviewers as they are about the candidate. “Look for people who have lots of great questions,” he writes. “These are even more important than great answers.”
It’s up to a manager to find “sparkle” in a candidate. “If you’re less than excited to hire someone for a particular job, don’t do it,” he writes. “The two of you will probably make each other miserable.”
And then if you feel this “click,” make your salary offer a premium on what that candidate was paid before, and what you think their attributes justify. Don’t worry about the market value of a job title.
After you finally make your hire, Dalio writes, ensure that you keep an eye on this person’s progress during the onboarding process to validate whether you made the right decision.
It’s about finding someone you respect and identify with. “Don’t hire people just to fit the first job they will do at Bridgewater; hire people you want to share your life with,” Dalio writes.
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