Superheroes are cool. From their names that ooze with authority (think Captain America and Wonder Woman) to their undeniably cool costumes, who wouldn’t want to be a superhero?
To me, the best part about being one is the satisfaction that comes from helping others in need. This got me thinking: What do other people find interesting about superheroes? Is it the superpowers? What superpowers would they wish for?
At AWeber, we tend to do things different than the rest. So it’s not surprising that our curiosity about superheroes has made its way into our recruiting and hiring efforts. There’s a lot you can learn about potentially new team members when you ask them which superhero they’d like to be and why.
It’s true. By adding this question to our application for employment and conversations during interviews, we’ve actually gotten smarter at the way we hire. Here’s what superheroes have taught us about building a team.
Ask unique questions, get unique team members
I like asking the superhero question because it’s unique and unexpected. Interviewees don’t have a stock answer for it so it takes them outside of something they might have thought about in advance. The purpose isn’t to create a “gotcha” moment. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The purpose is to create a moment for candidates to show an unfiltered version of themselves, their personalities, and how they think.
What this means is there is no right or wrong answer to the question. It’s simply a way to showcase the unique individual that they are.
Find out what inspires a person
As business professionals, we all have something that motivates us to do innovative things within our crafts and drives us to greatness. I challenge you to get to the core of this by asking job candidates questions such as, “What do you love most about your job?” or suggesting they tell you about their employment history. Certainly we can come up with questions way cooler than these!
But why a superhero? Sure, we could just ask candidates to name a mentor or celebrity they most admire. And we’d likely get some compelling responses. But placing the focus on a superhero takes it a level deeper. While they usually have a superhuman characteristic that makes them stand out, many also have very obtainable (mortal) characteristics for which they’re admired.
Take Batman for instance. This is the most common superhero that is referenced when AWeber interviews engineering professionals. They cite their appreciation for Batman because his super power isn’t superhuman, it’s simply using technology to solve problems. Other popular responses we’ve heard are Dr. Who for being smart and a good problem solver, plus Flash for being super cool.
Each of these things are little tells about how a person’s brain works and how they go about expressing themselves. Again, there’s no right or wrong here, it just gives us more qualitative insight about the candidate who’s looking to join our team.
Uncover dynamic personalities
The best use-cases of the superhero question are when candidates themselves take advantage of the opportunity to let their personalities shine. For example, ever heard of the superhero named Hackzor? He’s known for hacking into any mainframe and using his knowledge for good. Not ringing a bell? That’s because he’s completely made up by one of AWeber’s job candidates (now team member)!
Who says there are any rules to this question? After all, all superheroes are make believe. Oftentimes candidates will put their personalities on display like this and, at AWeber, we can’t get enough of it.
What it all means
For us here at AWeber, the ideal team is made up of superheroes who are smart, creative, assertive, results driven, persistent, humble, and reflective. They may know how we accomplished one thing, but they’re are also looking for ways they can do it better next time.
As for me, my superhero of choice is the same as many of our engineers. If I were a superhero, I’d probably be Batman for much of the same rationale that’s already been mentioned. He’s just a normal guy who solves problems with unique, specialized tools. He doesn’t want recognition for his accomplishments or for other people to know who he is. Instead, his only desire is the satisfaction of knowing he’s helped others when they needed it.
Tom Kulzer is the Founder and CEO of AWeber, an email marketing service provider located in Chalfont, Pa. Over the company’s 18-year history, Tom has nurtured it from a small start-up to an organization with 100 team members serving more than 100,000 customers worldwide.
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