When asked by an audience member at Austin’s annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival on what has been his “biggest mistake,” entrepreneur and Tesla/SpaceX founder Elon Musk said?

“The biggest mistake, in general, I’ve made, is to put too much of a weighting on someone’s talent and not enough on their personality.
And I’ve made that mistake several times. I think it actually matters whether somebody has a good heart, it really does. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that it’s sometimes just about the brain.”

Much of my business consultancy has focused on competency based interviews and assessment centres, checking that people can demonstrate their capability against the standard. I often wonder if that’s enough. Too much gets missed, including how someone will fit in with a team.
I always recommend an informal meet with team members before a decision is made, so the potential new hirer gets to know more about the culture and the people and we can check on informal fit.
When I help companies appoint a director/ board member chemistry is important, we know they can do the job but how will they fit with the other key players?
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has a similar view to Elon Musk:

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

Maybe we should put more emphasis on relationships in the recruitment process.

Advice for the job seeker

  • Look to build the relationship – come across as likeable and friendly, you will want your body language to be open and your voice tone engaging.
  • How can you demonstrate Integrity – seek to weave examples into your competency-based interviews and demonstrate it by showing up on time, and dressed appropriately for the situation?
  • Decide to show more of your personality in all aspects of the recruitment process. Understand who you are, what makes you different and how it fits with both the job and organisation.
  • Show you get on well with people and can adapt to different personality styles.


Need help with any aspect of job search and selection. I use my consultancy expertise to help motivated job seekers bring out their best at interview and have the best chance of success. Schedule a consultation using this link


Published On: July 6th, 2018 / Categories: Interviews, Job Search /

Leave A Comment