How To Hire Like Richard Branson, Beth Comstock, and Deepak Chopra

It has to do with talent, diversity, and souls.

How To Hire Like Richard Branson, Beth Comstock, and Deepak Chopra

Most people–even mighty Google–are basically clueless about what makes a good hire. But some people clearly have better heuristics than others, like folks that get knighted for being awesome at business, build holistic-health empires, and systematize change at legendary legacy companies.


Which is why having Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, and Beth Comstock share the way they hire is so, so needed.

At Virgin, what matters is who you are.

For Sir Richard Branson, the most crucial part of a hire is the personality.

“Most skills can be learned,” he says, “but it is difficult to train people on their personality.”

What kind of person is the man who built Virgin looking for? People who are “fun, friendly, caring, and love helping others,” which makes us think that it’s a touch like an online dating profile, which makes us think, once, again, how much hiring is like dating–whether you realize it or not.

“You can learn most jobs extremely quickly once you are thrown in the deep end,” Branson continues. “Within three months, you can usually know the ins and outs of a role. If you are satisfied with the personality, then look at experience and expertise.”


General Electric, in general

Beth Comstock, the chief marketing officer of GE, says that she arranges her hires by drawing different skill sets together, since that deep level of diversity creates complementary contrasts.

Those four types come in the following:

The fish out of water: Folks who don’t have your standard background: either in a geographic sense, as in being from another country or having spent a lot of time abroad, or in background. Comstock digs psych and anthropology majors for their observational skills.

Someone who can figure it out (FIO): People who can deal with messy situations–for example, those who’ve served in Teach for America, the Peace Corps, or, we may add, the armed forces.

A head for design: Businesses need people who love design. Why? Design makes you find simple solutions–which businesses need. So you need folks trained in design thinking.


Someone with balance: Because you need a generalist to bridge all these different skills and backgrounds you’re bringing together.

How to find out whether the (profoundest) pieces fit

When guru-dude Deepak Chopra is looking to hire some new soul, he naturally asks them to fill out a soul profile, which is different from a LinkedIn profile. It includes:

  1. What makes you joyful? Can you recall the most joyous moments of your life?
  2. What is your life purpose?
  3. In what way do you want to contribute to the business or organization?
  4. What are your unique talents and skills, and who would benefit from them?
  5. Who are your heroes/heroines/mentors in history, mythology, religion, or contemporary times?
  6. What are the qualities you look for in a good friendship?
  7. What are the best attributes you have that contribute to a meaningful relationship?

Why all the philosophical inquiries? Because, Chopra says, the answers they elicit “give both them and you an idea of the meanings, the context, the relationships, and the archetypal themes in their life,” which will give you a profound sense of cultural fit.


Hat tip: LinkedIn

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.