HIRING

The 2:00 A.M. Test for Hiring

How better to judge loyalty than by seeing which of your employees would come to your aid at two in the morning.
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For anyone who has known me for any period of time you will, from time-to-time, hear me extoll the virtues of the 2:00 a.m. test. No, it’s not the SATs, ACTs or any other number of our immeasurable acronym-driven societal placements we use to measure our station in the world. It is a simple axiom which I have held for as long as I can remember: the people you want in your life are the ones that are there for you at 2:00 a.m.
 
What am I talking about?  It’s really quite simple.
 
Think about all of the people in your life. Your friends, your co-workers and, of course, family. Who are the ones who are really there for you? Who are the ones that truly have your back? The measuring stick I have always used is this.  If I call someone at 2:00 a.m. and say "I blew a tire and need some help" the people of value are the ones who immediately respond "Where are you, I’ll be right there." If the response is anything but this, for instance "Do you know what time it is?" you know that although they may be your buddy, in the end they don’t really care. And by the way, the response to "Do you know what time it is?" in that context is "Yup, time to get a new friend."
 
But the test is not just limited to your personal life. It is equally applicable to business. 
 
Who do you want to hire? A person that could care less about your company but for the fact they know their pay check is going to cash every two weeks? How about the person that when you call them at 2:00 a.m. and say "A water line broke in the building. Can you get in and help us get the computers off the floor" they say "On the way."  (By the way, this actually happened to us years ago in our first space before we built our own building. Bonus tip: Never lease space with an adjoining wall to the building’s water pump room).
 
So when hiring come up with your own set of 2:00 a.m. questions unique to your business. In this economy there is, fortunately but also unfortunately, too many qualified people to choose from to fill your ranks. So when deciding, why not go ahead and add this additional level of selectivity? After all, at the end of the day wouldn’t you like them to pass the 2:00 a.m. test?

Last updated: Dec 22, 2011

MATTHEW SWYERS | Columnist | Founder, The Trademark Company

Matthew Swyers is the founder of The Trademark Company, a Web-based law firm specializing in protecting the trademark rights of small to medium-size businesses. The company is ranked No. 138 on the 2011 Inc. 500.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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