People are the lifeblood of a company. Recruiting the right people in today’s competitive landscape is critical for any company to accomplish its mission and serve its customers. Finding the right fit is very important. The wrong fit can destroy culture, inhibit employee engagement, and weaken customer satisfaction.

For years, I’ve only hired candidates with five essential traits and, thus far, it’s led to teams with amazing accomplishments. These five essential traits are Happy, Humble, Hungry, Fit, and Function. Most companies today have Applicant Tracking Systems that pre-screen resumes. Recruiting teams also vet candidates well before role

interviews are conducted. All this pre-work should be done prior to interviewing qualified candidates and considering the five essential traits.


Merriam-Webster defines happy as a content state of being. This does not mean people who are happy-go-lucky or hyper-positive. Happy in this context means people whose general disposition and outlook on life is positive. All of us have a bad day every now and then. Life happens to everyone. I look for people who don’t have a bad day everyday.

Despite life’s ups and downs,does that person naturally regress back to a statistically positive mean? To understand a candidate’s state of being, create a safe place in the interview where they can reveal their true happy selves. Listening, asking authentic questions, and being present helps to create that safe space.

Teams are formed to solve specific problems, and a positive state of being helps us do so. A happy state of being is also important in team building. Unleashing a curmudgeon onto a team adversely affects the working environment, communication, and energy

levels. Employees do not want to be in the trenches day in and day out with a negative person.


Recruiting teams should help find the best and brightest candidates. Then we as hiring managers interview these experts in their field—geniuses—to see if and how they fit onto our team. A level of humility to temper that genius is absolutely critical. Oftentimes, a ‘genius’ has to be the smartest person in the room, and in doing so, makes others feel small. Employees who are made to feel small may stop speaking up, causing creativity and collaboration to suffer.

Humility helps people approach others and problems from a position of curiosity rather than from a position of superiority. Curiosity opens the door for humility, and that helps talented people listen, learn, and grow. Without humility, geniuses can become toxic, brilliant jerks within your team and within the company culture.


Hungry for food is not the point here. Hungry to learn, grow, and constantly improve is the point. I look for people who are lifelong learners—people who continually study different aspects of their field. If someone is continually learning, that’s often a good

sign that they’re self-aware enough to know that they have room to grow. Hunger to learn and grow extends beyond just a candidate’s core competency. If a candidate is learning to play the piano, going back to school for an MBA or PhD, or reading about Feynman and quantum physics, for example—are also good hunger indicators.


A basketball analogy may help describe the fit. On a basketball team, there are five players on the floor—a point guard, a shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and a center. A player filling any of those critical roles brings complementary skills to that team and the plays it runs.

In a business, much like in basketball, we ask ourselves these questions: Will this candidate fit into our team and culture? Does this candidate have skills that will add to and enhance the performance of the team? Is this candidate a franchise player who can grow with the team for the long term? Can we win together? Do the other teammates think this candidate is the right fit for this role?

Include teammates in the interview process to help assess fit. This inclusion affords teammates the opportunity to see the potential candidate’s skills and how the team would change. Teammates get to buy into the new team formation too.

Sometimes co-workers approach the interview from a different perspective about the candidate that helps to determine fit. If potential teammates don’t want to work with a candidate, that may be a signal that that candidate isn’t the right fit for the team.


To function, in terms of roles, means having the skills and expertise to operate and deliver results. As stated earlier, before interviews are scheduled, recruiting teams conduct various degrees of due diligence to ensure candidates can function in the role. There may be several highly qualified candidates, and each could probably do the job on day one.

In interviews, I look to see if the candidate could not only function in this role, but

whether I can see them progressing two roles past this initial position on my team or growing elsewhere in the company. Is the candidate a “franchise player” that can help this team and other teams be successful? Yes, the interview is for a specific role; however, developing talent for the future of the company is a part of the function too.


Happy, Humble, Hungry, Fit, and Function are five essential traits of a new hire—especially in FinTech. As you build out your team and organization, employees who embody these traits can electrify your culture, enhance productivity, and exponentially delight your customers. These employees will accelerate the mission and may become future leaders within the companies.