According to organizational psychologist Adam Grant, there’s generally two types of people in any organization:

  1. Givers, who approach interactions with the mindset of, “What can I do for you?”
  2. Takers, who approach interactions with the mindset of, “What can you do for me?”

I would much rather work in an organization of Givers. And according to this HBS study, the negative impact of a Taker on the organization is 2–3x the positive impact of a Giver.

You probably can’t just fire all the Takers in your company. But you can do a better job screening them out in the hiring process. As we’ve been more aggressively hiring at DuckDuckGo, looking for these traits is something that’s been on my mind.

In his TED talk, Adam Grant proposes screening for Takers with this interview question:

Tell me about 3 people who’s career’s you’ve had a meaningful impact on?

If they talk about people above them, they’re Takers.

If they talk about people below them, they’re Givers.

In my experience, I’ve found it to be pretty obvious whether they lean towards being a Giver or Taker in how they talk about their previous work experience. I haven’t tried using that question yet, but I like having it in my back pocket.

If you’re a Giver, DuckDuckGo is hiring: https://duckduckgo.com/hiring