What Does Apple’s CEO Look For When Hiring? “Wicked Smart” People (Video)

I don’t know if you will ever find two CEOs as completely different as Apple’s Tim Cook and his predecessor, the late, great Steve Jobs.

People who worked with both will undoubtedly have some insights on the similarities between the two, but to anyone on the outside, it’s hard to imagine two CEOs who are as polar opposites as the cerebral, quiet Cook and the larger-than-life presence that was Jobs.

In fact, there is a school of thought that Apple has never really been the same since Jobs died back in 2011, and that Cook has simply been riding on the waves that Jobs generated.

I understand that thinking, but I also believe it is incredibly unfair to Cook and fails to take into account that he is seen by many as the glue that helped hold Jobs’ Apple empire together for a long time, and that he has continued to do so from the CEO’s chair long after the great man has gone.

Looking for “wicked smart” people

Tim Cook is also not a guy you hear a lot from, and that’s why this video, from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business that gets him talking about what he looks for when he hires, is so very interesting.

In fact, it starts with the premise that Apple looks for people who are good at collaborating, and the opening question — What qualities do you look for in people to produce effective collaboration, and what role do you have as CEO in fostering that? — gets Cook to expound on that topic in a way I had not heard him express before.

Here are just a few of the qualities Cook says he looks for when interviewing people for Apple:

  • People who are not political;
  • People who can privately share an achievement and not care if their names is the one in lights;
  • “Wicked smart” people who appreciate different points of view.

One of the things that jumped out at me from this video is that Cook was also talking about “fit” — the qualities that Apple looks for to ensure that new hires mesh and “fit” well with their organizational culture. I know that Steve Jobs talked about this too, but not in the same way that Tim Cook does here.

The most important thing you can do in building a business

Like all of the videos we feature here on Talent Insider, this one is pretty short at two-and-a-half minutes. But, it also gives you a great dose of wisdom from a great business thinker who not only hires a great many people, but who has also spent a lot of time thinking through exactly what they want out of those who ultimately pass the test and get brought on board.

It’s also a good reminder — again — that hiring is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to building and growing an organization. And, it’s the reason why CEO’s like Tim Cook spend so much of their time involved in it.

Harver Team

Harver Team

Updated on:
July 24, 2023

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