Tim Cook says Apple seeks out 4 qualities in new hires

Getting a job at Apple isn’t easy, but according to CEO Tim Cook, people who possess four specific qualities are much more likely to find themselves.

Speaking at Federico II University of Naples in Italy, where he received an honorary degree in innovation and international management, Cook told students it was important for incoming employees to care about the world around them.

“We have a group of people at the company who really want to change the world, who want to enrich people’s lives, who want to leave the world better than they found it,” he said. “It’s that kind of feeling that drives people to do their best work, and I’ve seen it happen time and time again, and the results are incredible.”

He then delved into the specific characteristics Apple looks for in new hires, revealing that the tech giant prizes four traits in particular.


An important skill needed by anyone hoping to work at Apple was the ability to collaborate with peers, Cook told the audience in Naples last week.

“We think strong individual contributors are really key, but two strong individuals working together can do incredible work, and small teams can do incredible things,” he said.

“So we’re looking for the ability to collaborate with people, the fundamental feeling that if I share my idea with you, that idea will grow and become bigger and better.”

Reiterating that different points of view help ideas flourish, Cook noted that collaborative processes were responsible for Apple’s ability to create new products.

“It’s not that someone goes into a corner or a closet and discovers something about themselves, it’s a collaborative effort,” he said.


Creativity is another trait Apple looks for in potential employees, Cook added.

“We’re looking for people who think differently, who can look at a problem and not get stuck in the dogma of how that problem has always been seen,” he told the students. “And so [we look for] someone who will dig around the problem and look at it from different angles and use their creative juices to come up with solutions.”


“It’s a clichΓ©, but there are no dumb questions,” Cook said, as he said Apple valued curiosity and was looking for people with an inquisitive nature.

“Curiosity is being curious about something to ask a lot of questions, whether you think they’re smart questions or dumb questions,” he said. “It’s amazing when someone starts asking questions like a child would, how it pushes the person to think about the answers very deeply. And so we look for that innate curiosity in people.”


Finally, Cook noted that Apple wanted people with relevant experience to join its workforce.

“If we’re doing something in industrial design, we need someone who knows industrial design and has a skill set in it, either from their college days or their working days,” he said.

Cook suggested that people with these four traits had been successful at Apple, and therefore the company would continue to hire those who could bring those attributes to the table.

“Those are the things we look for in people, and it’s been a really good formula for us,” he said.

However, he noted that doing well at work was a two-way street and that working at a job that left you unfulfilled was not a recipe for success.

“People have to work for a reason bigger than themselves,” he said. “So you want to have a vision for a company that is about serving the customer and somehow improving their lives. You want to do it in an ethical way.”

Without these ingredients, he argued, no amount of money would make a job worth doing.

“There’s no gravitational pull of that; the gravitational pull is always, what are you doing for other people?” he said “And with a purpose like that, it’s amazing what people will do from a labor standpoint.”

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