As he explains in his new book “The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership,” Virgin Group founder Richard Branson approaches business the way he does everything else in life: He wants anything he spends his time and energy on to be fun.
So it makes sense that he’s not a fan of the traditional job interview, which usually entails going through his potential hire’s professional history.
“Obviously a good CV is important, but if you were going to hire by what they say about themselves on paper, you wouldn’t need to waste time on an interview,” Branson writes.
That’s why he says a great question to ask your interviewee is: What didn’t you get a chance to include on your résumé?
“As important as it is to look at what a candidate has achieved elsewhere, I have always believed that the single most important thing to consider is ‘personality fit,'” he says. “By that I mean, is this someone whose way of being, sense of humour, and general demeanour will dovetail easily with your company’s culture?”
That’s why he believes it’s important to use the interview as a chance to clarify any questions you may have about the candidate’s career, but to spend the majority of the time figuring out what they’re like as an actual person.
And trust your gut, Branson says. You can always teach someone skills required for a job, but you can’t teach them to adapt their personality to your corporate culture.
Finally, if a potential hire comes into his office looking too nervous to get a good read on them, Branson has an unusual method of helping them loosen up. “I have often broken the ice by asking them to tell me a joke,” he writes. “It’s amazing how telling a joke, even if doing it really badly, can make someone laugh at themselves and come out of their shell.”
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