5 Recruiting Lessons from Ferris Bueller

Imagine if Ferris Bueller, from the iconic 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by John Hughes, had a technology start-up.

The idea of Ferris the entrepreneur isn’t so far fetched. He was an inventor, after all. Remember the slumbering snoring Ferris-dummy he hooked up to his bedroom stereo and successfully fooled his own mother?

What would Ferris do to find the right talent?

Lesson 1: Find confident people

“Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.”

Hire people that are confident and that believe in themselves. Ask about a time when their ego took a blow. What was the situation, and what happened afterwards?

Hearing about resilience in the face of tough circumstances can be very telling. After all, you may be the one giving them critical feedback in the future.

Lesson 2: Weed out ass kissers

“You can’t respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn’t work.”

Matthew Broderick plays Ferris Bueller.

The same goes for hiring “A” players. An “A” player isn’t going to move your company forward by just agreeing with you. You want people to think differently, and challenge the status quo in a productive way.

Hire independent thinkers who have a genuine curiousity and won’t wait around for you to tell them what to do. Ask them to provide examples of situations where they saw a problem and what they did about it. What was the outcome? What would they do differently the next time?

Lesson 3: Spread the word

“Save Ferris.”

Ferris Bueller probably would have been the first to achieve a million Twitter followers. How are you getting the word out that your company is hiring?

Posting jobs to free boards like Craig’s List, Indeed, and SimplyHired is one way. Another is spreading the word through social connections specific to the role for which you are hiring.

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For example, if you are looking for an E-Commerce Manager, post a message in a LinkedIn Group dedicated to E-Commerce. Look for referrals from people you know. Drive applicants to an engaging Careers page on your website to learn more about your company culture in addition to the specific job.

Lesson 4: Understand motivations

The question isn’t ‘what are we going to do?’ the question is ‘what aren’t we going to do?’ ”

Knowing what motivates people is key to creating a successful team.

Ask if they motivated by a desire to prove something to themselves? Money? Design? Solving problems? Understanding how people view opportunities will help you evaluate whether their underlying interests align with yours.

Lesson 5: Discover what’s unique

Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Not only are you building your company, but also your culture. For some early-stage companies, fit is more important than skills.

How you evaluate fit is really up to you, but there are some questions that may help bring these aspects forward. Ask “What makes you unique?” and put a limit on the number of characters, like a Tweet (or 150). Ask “What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?” or “What is something you always make time for?” and Ferris would be proud.

This article originally appeared on The Resumator Blog.


4 Comments on “5 Recruiting Lessons from Ferris Bueller

  1. What a fun – and accurate – post!  Ferris definitely had skills… going viral (“Save Ferris”) in the days before social media.  🙂  

    Thanks for the great read and the trip down memory lane.  #subscribed

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