An update on the internship positions. I have officially filled the positions. I received a staggering 67 applications in total. Only eight received Skype interviews. I ended up hiring three (despite only two initial openings).

Overall, the quality of the applications was astounding. MBA’s, JD’s, masters degrees, entrepreneurs, Ivy League graduates, lots of people with some previous internet marketing experience, and even a few people who have been coaches in the industry. A few people created YouTube videos, and a few others sent in business ideas with their applications. One guy sent me a short story he had published and another sent me original rap lyrics about his personal development.

Needless to say, there were a lot of amazing applications and sorting through them was hard. Below is an overview of the criteria I looked for, from most important to least important.

Passion for the Vision and Brand: This was the most important to me. Internet marketing can be taught, but passion for what we’re doing here can’t. The scarcity in this hiring process was people who “get” the vision of this site and who are passionate and excited about executing that vision. It was clear that a lot of people applied mainly to get a cool trip and learn some useful marketing skills. That’s fine and understandable. Some people like the site and read the site a lot, but their main priority was to get out of their desk job or whatever. I specifically screened for people who saw this first and foremost as an opportunity to create something amazing that can contribute back to society and secondly as a personal opportunity for their own growth. Long-time readers and forum members had an edge in this category — sometimes a big edge.

Intelligence and Previous Success: Self-explanatory. Most applicants fit this criteria. A number of them were way over-qualified.

Confidence and Independence: I was a bit ruthless with this one, but I felt it was important. Any time I came across something like, “I wanted to read more in university, but I never had time because of classes and my girlfriend,” that application was trashed. No excuses allowed. If you want something, you do it. That’s the kind of person I’m looking for. Any overt negativity or critical attitude towards others also received a fairly quick veto.

Some people opened up and shared a lot of personal details. In some cases, this helped them a lot and in other cases it hurt them. It really came down to how comfortable they seemed sharing it and how resolved the issues seemed to be.

And guys who were clearly in the early stages of developing their social confidence were passed on as well. This was not a judgment on them personally, but if a guy still has trouble meeting and talking to new people in his hometown, then moving to Colombia where no one speaks their language and it’s a completely different culture will not be easy for them. I wanted people who could hit the ground running and be confident in a new environment. People with a lot of previous traveling experience also had an edge in this category.

Personality and Charisma: Simple. I asked myself, “How much do I think I’d enjoy hanging out with this guy?” After all, we are going to be living and working in close quarters for six months. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a guy who would blow my mind either. In fact, some of the applications were hardcore pick up guys who seemed to be selling the idea that we’d be partying and getting laid non-stop for six months. This was a turn off.

I mainly looked for normal, relaxed, cool guys who seemed like I could have fun with them, whether it was having dinner together, being stuck on a bus together or going to a club. I need to like the people I’m with and be able to have fun with them.

Technical Knowledge and Experience: Also self-explanatory. Previous internet marketing knowledge and experience was most important, but also programming experience, web and graphic design, etc., were considered.

In the interviews, I pushed applicants further on the long-term vision they had for the business and screened on how much that vision aligned with my own. Once I had narrowed it down from there, THEN I began looking at technical knowledge, innate strengths/weaknesses, and pieced together the team based on the guys who I thought would work best together and would work best with me, not necessarily on their individual qualifications. As part of this team building process, I ended up hiring three guys instead of two.

I see this first round of hiring as setting the foundation of my business for years to come. So I weighted the “soft qualifications” more highly than the hard qualifications.

A few random observations:

  • Tons of musicians. Mostly guitarists, but some pianists as well. Interesting, as I’m a guitarist.
  • Lots of guys into bodybuilding, personal training and MMA.
  • A lot of French-speakers. And not just native, but a lot of guys who studied it on their own.
  • Probably half a dozen University of Michigan students/alum. There must be something in the water in Ann Arbor.
  • A lot of people from Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. The US west coast was disproportionately represented by quite a bit.

Last year, when it became clear that I was going to need to hire serious help soon, I was pretty stressed about it. I didn’t know where to look. I didn’t know how to vet people. I’ve never hired anyone other than some freelancers here and there. I had no idea how to interview someone or what I should look for. Hell, I can probably count the number of job interviews I’ve been in on one hand.

I asked a friend of mine who works for a very successful professional blogger and writer for advice and he said, “Start with your readers.” It seemed a little crazy at first, but he was right. There’s a ridiculous amount of talent reading this blog each week, talent who already knows the brand and cares about the business. They’re going to be far better candidates than anyone I’d get on a generic job posting site. As far as I’m concerned, this was a rousing success.

Chances are I will need to hire more in the next few years. I know the first place I’ll be looking from now on.

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14 Responses to My Hiring Process

  1. Geert says:

    I love to read this!

    I wasn’t surprised that a lot of candidates received high quality education. That seems to be the common theme around community guys, haha.

    Care to give us some insights in who got chosen?

    • Mark says:

      I’ll leave it up to them to decide if they’d like to share who they are. All three are forum members and commenters. One is a former client. One has done work for me previously and was very good and reliable.

  2. John says:

    I like that you posted the selection criteria you used to select instead of going opaque.

    Throwing out these types of applications resonates loud and clear:

    “Confidence and Independence: I was a bit ruthless with this one, but I felt it was important. Any time I came across something like, “I wanted to read more in university, but I never had time because of classes and my girlfriend,” that application was trashed. No excuses allowed. If you want something, you do it. That’s the kind of person I’m looking for. Any overt negativity or critical attitude towards others also received a fairly quick veto.”

    So benign yet so infectious

  3. Jack says:

    Awesome! I’m so pleased for you and your business! :-)

  4. David says:

    Was def very tempting to apply.

    Congrats to the 3 successful applicants and look forward to the reality show :}

  5. Aaron says:

    Thanks for the details Mark and congrats to the 3 successful interns!

    Looking forward to the next recruitment :)

  6. Aaron says:

    Btw Mark, found this comment particularly interesting:

    ‘Tons of musicians. Mostly guitarists, but some pianists as well. Interesting, as I’m a guitarist.’

    1. Do you think it’s fair to say that musicians are more ‘in touch’ with their emotional side – it has always seemed to me that the more you ‘feel’, the better music you can produce.
    2. Would that be a factor in why musicians (are perceived to) have greater success with women? I recall reading a quote in ‘The Art of Seduction’ somewhere along the lines of ‘a single note from the string of an instrument can melt a heart more than a thousand athletic feats on the Coliseum’
    3. As for the high numbers of musicians, particularly guitar, I’d propose the hypothesis that the guys who applied are mostly types who are passionate about personal growth and self improvement. They would probably have learned music/instrument as part of their own self development. And the guitar is probably the most well documented/easiest available instrument out there – hence the high percentage.

    Plus the ladies always seem to love a guitarist :)

    • Mark says:

      Why musicians have success with women is a whole different topic, but I think musicians have brains that work in a certain way and that they’re probably attracted to my writing because my brain works the same way.

      Musicians usually have an interesting combination of being highly sensitive while still being left-brained and very rational. I think that describes my content well too.

  7. Zac says:

    I personally found filling out the application was really cleansing for me. It helped me think about some things I don’t think about very often. It forced me to sit down and think about what I did want for myself in five years. Often it’s hard to quantify “how far we’ve come” because we live our success and failures every day. It was nice to have to sit down and think about my “emotional development” or what I’ve taught myself.

    • Tim says:

      Yeah I felt the same. Also, I was already thinking about where I want to be in 5 years time, but having to truly consider whether you’re going to be able to make a commitment like this one forces you to be more honest with yourself, and gives you more powerful answers.

  8. Arnold says:

    “It was clear that a lot of people applied mainly to get a cool trip and learn some useful marketing skills.”
    Maybe this was also partially caused by the fact that you advertised your vacancy with: “I will pay you to travel the world.”

  9. brett says:

    congrats man. I think you went about the hiring process very well and intelligently. I’d expect nothing less.

  10. Davey says:

    Crazy how underqualified I was lol – Ivy League grads? Uhhh.. Barton Highschool Class of 2008! Had to give ‘er a shot, though

  11. […] really didn’t think I’d get it. As you can see from his article on who he hired and the survey of who the readers of his site are, some really awesome guys read his site and […]

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