LiveWatch CEO Brad Morehead has increased the headcount at his firm four-fold in the last three years, from 20 to more than 100. The home security company wants to kill ADT by offering self-installed systems that customers purchase online. They currently ship to all 50 states and eight countries.
To live up to its offer of beating the competition’s price by 30 to 50 percent, Morehead has done everything he can to hold the bottom line down. “Our office is intentionally frugal,” he says. “We take care of our customers and our colleagues — in that order.”
To prepare applicants for what they’re getting themselves into, Morehead often quotes the ad that Ernest Shackleton supposedly placed in the Times of London to recruit for his Antarctic expedition:
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.
Nobody has yet gotten crushed in an ice floe at LiveSecurity, but Morehead does have a few tricks to winnow down the candidate pool. Here are his 5 tricks for figuring out who’s willing to hazard frostbite.
Results come before charm
You don’t know how someone’s going to really interact with you based on an interview because everyone’s putting on their happy face. You need to be able to give feedback and see their reaction to it. So I give them a bite-size project that’ll take a night or a weekend. It gives you a good gauge of their interest. A two-, three-, four-hour project they won’t do, are you really interested in the job? I’m tough to work for. You may think you want to work for me, but you don’t know.
One guy that was interested in a sales position. He said all the right things, had all the right ideas. I said, ‘Well, look, we have a project try-before-you-buy mentality.’ Gave him the project. He didn’t get it done on time, asked for more time. I said okay. Then he asked for more time again. Gave him more time. He came back, delivered something that was mediocre, and I said so. He didn’t like that.
You don’t get any of that from the interview. At that point, it’s okay. Let’s part ways, no harm done.
Be ready for live ammo
You know by the first project [whether it’s a fit], but you have to use live ammo — that’s something I’m passionate about. If it’s a contrived project, that comes through to them. They know they’re wasting time, and they know it’s real if it’s live ammo.
I look for something that articulates their ability to communicate, take feedback and manage deadlines: Analyze our conversion funnel for our traffic. Write code that integrates with this API. Usually, we’ll talk about some level of compensation. The goal is, for you to deliver a work product that has value to us. If you deliver good analysis, I’ll buy it from you for market value.
Don’t throw shade
My father-in-law has been in business in Nebraska for 40 years. He taught me, never hire someone who says something bad about a previous boss in an interview. So I always ask, tell me about your previous boss — what would they say about you?
Tell me about previous experience isn’t tell me about previous experience. It’s an intelligence test. There are ways to talk about your previous experience, even if your boss was a tyrant, ways to say it without saying it.
If someone comes out with a negative, there’s a high likelihood that when they come in, they’ll be badmouthing you. The handful of times I’ve gone against that, the pattern still held. Probably a lesson to listen to my father-in-law.
Dress up, but not too far up
It means something if you’re wearing a watch that’s worth more than everyone else’s watch combined, or a suit worth more than everyone else’s combined suit. Do you come in for the second interview wearing that? You have to get the feel of the place.
If you’re looking for a fancy office, we’re not the right fit. We save money by buying used furniture, and we keep an inexpensive office to pass it along to our customers and our employees.
One thing I’ve found that I didn’t understand when I started on Wall Street: There, it was all about intellect and work ethic. It wasn’t about loyalty, I don’t think that’s valued there. As I’ve transitioned to entrepreneurship, working with friends, mentors, partners has taught me about how important it is to have loyalty — not just to me or the company, but to the cause.
So what’s something they’ve been loyal about, or haven’t been, and is that a red flag? I try to understand that through family members or friends or a student group or a previous business — understanding how they think about loyalty is the key.
The light at the end of the tunnel remains the light at the end of the tunnel. The shoulder-to-shoulder work is the fun.