Danger!! Trap Work Ethic Questions Ahead…

Kris Dunn Culture, Kris Dunn, Recruiting

We HR/Talent types LOVE to talk about work/life balance as an academic pleasure.  Whether you're on the recruiting trail, trying to look highbrow at the weekly mixer or really believe it, work/life balance is a talking point that we can pull out on cue and talk intelligently about it.

There's just this little problem.  In order for your company to meet its goals, someone (perhaps severalWorker_sleeping240x180  people) has got to be a freaking animal on the work hour side.  You know the type – a grinder, workaholic who would rather knock out an 80 hour week than see their family.

Note – I'm not saying that should be you or me.  I'm saying that in order for your company to succeed, as you recruit, you're probably going to need a few animals to kick out the jams that need kicking.  Clichés include "the go-to guy" (or gal), "the terminator", "Baron Von Workalot", and of course, "Recently divorced."

So, you need to find the the terminator, the Baron.  Fortunately, Jason Calacanis (founder and chief executive of Mahalo.com, also founder and former editor of Silicon Alley Reporter magazine) feels your pain, and recently provided a list of questions designed to help you find the dysfunctional prospect who will work 70 hours just to show you they care more than the other people you employ.

Here are the questions from Jason C at BusinessWeek:

1. Do you live to work or work  to live?

2. Do you consider yourself a workaholic? Do you think there is anything wrong with being a workaholic?

3. Are you able to turn it off at 6 p.m. and on Friday for the weekend? You don't get obsessed by work, do you? (Trick question!)

4. Do you consider yourself a balanced person?

5. How would you feel if we all needed to come in on the weekend to make a deadline?

6. How would you feel if this happened two weekends in a row?

7. It's a tough time right now, and we're super short-staffed—how would you feel if I asked you to cover for [insert job lower than candidate's experience] when they're on vacation?

8. Speaking of vacation, do you bring your BlackBerry and laptop with you to check in? Or do you like to unplug completely?

Not a bad list if you're looking for a workaholic, or to put it more kindly, a grinder.  What would you add to the list of questions? We talk a lot of smack about work/life balance, but is there anything wrong with looking for talent that's simply more capable of outworking their peers?

If I had to add anything, it's the fact that, in addition to expecting a lot out of you, certain freedoms are granted.  You've got a laptop and a blackberry, so as long as you can handle the workload in question, I don't really care when you come and when you leave – as long as I know you are the animal you say you are when you're remote.

I'm guessing Jason, in pure startup CEO mode, probably wouldn't offer that up….