- Jason Brown, the cofounder and CEO of the personal-finance app Tally, asks every potential hire, “As a human, are you happy?”
- It’s Brown’s way of finding out whether the applicant is aligned with Tally’s mission and has personal motivations for wanting to work there.
- Applicants who can pinpoint the things that drive their happiness tend to also have better reasons for wanting to work at the company, Brown said.
A company runs smoother when all of its employees are aligned with its mission.
For Jason Brown, the cofounder and CEO of the personal-finance app Tally, that means determining at the interview stage where a potential hire’s priorities lie.
And Brown has an unusual way of finding that out. When people interview for a job at Tally, he makes sure he asks them whether they’re happy.
“One question I ask people is, ‘As a human, are you happy?'” Brown told Business Insider.
The point of the question, Brown said, isn’t to assess an applicant’s mental health or emotional state but to see whether the person can put into words the things that drive him or her. Someone who cites a recent vacation or hanging out with friends, for example, is less likely to get the job than someone who talks intelligently about personal relationships and health.
“It really is very telling of people who understand what makes them happy and who have self-awareness about deeper things driving happiness, versus more shallow things,” he said.
“It’s not so much the answer,” he added, so much as it’s “a) have you ever thought about this, and b) do you have at least some foggy notion about the rough elements that matter to you?”
Founded in 2015, Tally helps users lower their credit-card debt by consolidating their debt from multiple cards, paying off the debt, and then charging them a lower interest rate. The San Francisco-based company raised $25 million in series B funding earlier this year, and it roughly tripled in size to about 60 employees in 2018.
Inevitably, the Tally applicants who can pinpoint what makes them happy are the ones who have more personal motivations for wanting to work there. For example, some Tally employees had their own struggles with credit-card debt, Brown said.
Asking them about their happiness tends to make those motivations clearer.
“At that point, I’m like, OK, cool, there’s somebody who really does genuinely believe in making people less stressed and better off financially,” Brown said.
Hiring people who believe in Tally’s mission is the “most important thing” for the company, Brown said.
“If you have everybody on your team who has a personal, deeper reason to be there, I think that’s where the next level of ideas come out,” he told Business Insider. “Instead of them being done at the end of the day, they’re thinking about, ‘How can we make this better?'”
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