Tech CEO shares the 3 most important things he looks for in job candidates

Kathleen Elkins

CEOs have a knack for weeding out talent. 

Gary Ambrosino, who has over 30 years of experience running high-tech companies and is currently CEO of software company TimeTrade, tells Business Insider he looks for three things in every job candidate.

He also explains how he determines whether  job seekers possess those critical traits. 

The first thing Ambrosino looks for is a high level of motivation and desire, which he pinpoints by asking the question: "If you didn't have to work for a living, what would you do?"

"People that have a strong desire to work in business and do great things will tell a story or create a dialogue that is very similar to what they would be doing if theyhad to be working for a living," he explains. "They just love to do it and want to do it." 

Next he wants to get a sense of their optimism.

To figure out if they've got it, he'll measure their reaction to an adverse situation. Rather than asking candidates how they've dealt with adversity in the past, Ambrosino like to give a hypothetical scenario.

"I'll give them a business case; something that hasn't happened yet, but could potentially happen," he says. "They generally will shape their response using the lessons learned from adversity they faced in the past. It really tells you a lot about how somebody thinks and what they've learned along the way." 

Finally, Ambrosino wants to see a candidate's ability to execute. "You have to talk to them very specifically about how exactly they would do things in the specific role," he says. "It's very important to distinguish between the candidate having seen it happen somewhere and actually having done it."

You have to be able to take your optimistic view of the future and turn it into a business program, or take adversity and turn it into an advantage, he adds.

"It's more than just understanding adversity or optimism," he explains. "You've got to be able to translate that understanding into something that's actionable. Because ultimately, in business, something has to be delivered, something has to be designed, and somebody has to be convinced."

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