no asshole policy hr

Does Your Company Embrace A “No A–hole Policy”?

Craig Ferrara

The big hope for any company is to attract and hire great people, and also to avoid very toxic individuals who negatively impact morale and productivity. In other words, you want to weed out jerks. But how does that work in practice? Do you just cross your fingers and hope, or are you more blunt about it? For those willing to do the latter, there’s a policy for that. 

But first, let’s talk about something I encountered recently:

I was talking to an old colleague of mine the other night and he was describing his experience interviewing with a company in hyper-growth mode. They had recently gone public and were looking to hire aggressively over the next few months. With any fast growing company he naturally had concerns around the culture and whether or not it would fit his approach to managing a team he could potentially inherit.

When he got to the final round of interviews, he had the opportunity to meet with the CEO, who laid it all out on the line for him. This is what she said:

“Chris, you seem to meet the criteria that I’m looking for in this role. If I’m being honest, I would like to hire you for this position….but just so you are aware we have a strict no a$%hole policy here. Can you handle that?”

Of course it took him by surprise as it isn’t necessarily a question you’d expect to hear in an interview, especially from a C-Level executive.

When he mentioned it to me, we both had a good laugh and said that we wished it was a question that been asked of everyone we were responsible for hiring through the years.

A policy that cuts through the crap

All jokes aside, there’s some value in presenting a “policy” like this. Typically the fluff questions one would ask in an interview setting would be more like: 

“What kind of work environment do you excel in?” or “What kind of people do you like to work around?”or “What style of management do you respond best to?”

But instead of these more expected questions, I would say the CEO’s question really seemed to cut through the crap in order for my friend to realize what she was really looking to understand about him. Plus, it told him that she was still looking to hold on to the heart and soul of who they were as organization. She didn’t lose site of the fact that it was likely the reason behind why they had been so successful to that point in their organizational growth.

It’s about authenticity – which more companies need

Every week, I spend a significant amount of time checking out career sites of organizations that could potentially partner up with us here at kununu. From my perspective, the ones that are doing talent acquisition the right way are the ones who are authentic in providing you insight on what it’s really like to work for the organization. That can be accomplished through video, employee testimonials or partnering with 3rd party review sites…to name just a few. And apparently, this  “no a$%holes” thing is a common policy since my google search on the subject returned quite a few blogs and articles. This one from HuffPo had some great tips: Organizations Are Serious About The “No Jerks” Policy When Hiring.

Every office environment inevitably has a range of personalities. I know I’ve worked at certain places where there always seemed to be a handful of individuals that were amazingly adept at sucking the life out of the place. While I recognize that we don’t necessarily have to love each other, we have to at least respect our colleagues enough to treat them as we would like to be treated…sorry for cliché, but it’s true.

So, is this a topic that you feel the company honestly cares about?  How are you weeding out the jerks and what question should you be asking?


Oh, and by the way, my friend got the job.