Opposites attract, right? This is what we’ve all heard our whole lives but do they really attract? Actually, no. According to science, opposites don’t attract. But, that doesn’t mean we should hire people that think alike, talk alike and act alike.

Over the years, we’ve place employees in startups hiring their first employee all the way up to Fortune 10 companies. We have seen companies hire complete opposites but we have also seen companies hire cookie cutter employees. Both can be a complete disaster. It’s all about balance and asking the right questions to find the right fit. And working in the technology space, we live with the assumption that there is a growth mindset in your business. Without that mindset in business and especially technology, you will be left behind.

So how do you find the right fit? You want to look for these 3 key characteristics in a new employee:

  1. Not afraid to challenge the status quo

You are looking for someone who doesn’t just tow the line. You need an employee who can respectfully challenge the status quo and not just be a “yes” man or woman. Ask a candidate about a time they pushed back or challenged the status quo at work or in their personal life. Ask them about the outcome. Also ask if they have an example of a time that didn’t result in the same ending. We can’t win every “battle”. You want to ensure this is someone who knows the appropriate time to back down. It should never be “my way or the highway”.

  1. Love of learning

What is their favorite industry newsletter, podcast, website, or other source of learning? What do they read in their spare time that is not work related? What other things do you do to learn? You are looking to see if someone is well rounded. The more well rounded they are, the more likely they are to pull from a variety of sources for their thinking, their ideas and their problem solving. They are also less likely to think just like the person sitting next to them.

  1. Ask good questions

You want someone who is inquisitive. During the interview, take note of whether or not they ask questions and if they are thoughtful questions. They should demonstrate active listening- positive body language, good eye contact, holding judgment until someone else is done speaking. If they resort to the canned interview questions, it raises a yellow flag about their ability to think critically.

There are other characteristics that we believe are important as well, but they are typically more specific to the position and expectations in that role. That being said, we understand, all roles are different and they may need variations of the three characteristics above. There is no one size fits all solution. But we do know all companies want to remain relevant. In order to remain relevant, companies can’t become stagnant. They become stagnant and growth halts when we don’t challenge the status quo, stop learning and stop asking good questions. This is where finding the balance of differences among employees becomes important.