and his or her opinions.
In one YouTube video that recently surfaced, Jobs is seen holding an internal meeting with employees at NeXT, the computer company he built after leaving Apple in 1985. 3 He talked about the importance of “reiterating” the vision, which he did a lot. Again, we see why all inspiring communications begin with the passionate pursuit of a bold, intoxicating vision. During the meeting, one employee took Jobs to task for a punishing production schedule. The meeting took place in 1986, and Jobs was concerned that a failure to deliver the product in the spring of 1987, eighteen months away, could lead to the company’s failure. The employee argued that compromising the quality of the product to meet a subjective deadline didn’t make sense. The woman was strong, forceful, articulate, and knowledgeable. Jobs looked at her, nodded, and had a comeback. The conversation grew heated but gave others the confidence to voice their opinions as well. By the end of the exchange, however, everyone was laughing, getting along, and feeling inspired about their new product.
Could You Go Toe-to-Toe with Steve Jobs?
Fearless does not mean insubordinate, obnoxious, or rude. Those are not the qualities you want to see in people on your team. According to Gary Allen, who maintains an extensive Apple Store blog, “Fearless feedback means that anyone at any level can provide constructive feedback to any other employee at any level. Not surprisingly this ties back to the original hiring process which we know focuses on creating a team, not on a person’s technical skills. In the hiring phase you must evaluate whether prospective employees can both give and receive fearless feedback.” 4
How do you hire friendly, but fearless employees? A résumé will not reveal fearlessness. A traditional job interview with contrived questions like, “What’s your greatest weakness?” will not reveal fearlessness. True confidence is revealed through conversations with hiring managers and employees.
“First and foremost, Apple is looking for a ‘type,’ not a person with vast experience and knowledge,” says Gary Allen. “If you are a team player and can fit into Apple’s work ethic and philosophy, the company will teach you anything you need to know to meet their job performance goals. You do not need retailing or computer repair experience to be hired.” You do, however, need passion, spirit, and a collaborative attitude.
Apple has a three-step hiring process that can last more than one month. A description of each step in the process follows.
The first step is to put a group of candidates in a room with other candidates, hiring managers, and Apple Store employees. According to Allen, the interviews are very informal and there does not seem to be a standard set of questions for the interview. Sometimes candidates are asked simple questions such as, “What is your favorite ice cream?” These questions are meant to see who speaks up, how well they project, and how confident they are in front of others. Wallflowers are quickly weeded out. The larger group is broken upinto smaller groups of about four to five people and asked questions about how they would respond to a potential situation: for example, a customer comes in with an iPhone that doesn’t work. How would the candidates handle it? The answer is less important than how the candidate arrived at the answer. A “know-it-all” might not last to the next round. The person who doesn’t know the answer but who interacted with the group and even asked for help is the one who stands out. Apple is looking for people who exhibit the traits of a team player. A very small percentage of the larger group gets called back for step two in the hiring—or the weeding out—process. One applicant who went through the process posted this description on his blog:
The meeting was held at an Apple store after it had closed for the day. There were about twenty