In this article
  • We speak to four CEOs on the qualities they look for in potential candidates as well as what to avoid.

In a previous article, we interviewed a CEO who mentioned that one of the biggest mistakes he made, which risked his entire company, was recruiting the wrong people.

He’s not the only entrepreneur to make such a mistake. It’s quite likely that almost every company has risked the same error.

When a wrong hire is made, it doesn’t just lead to monetary damage—it could also negatively impact a company’s productivity and morale. Employees represent the company’s brand’s image, so it’s crucial to find and retain the right fit.

We talked to four CEOs from companies in Malaysia to share two rare qualities that would make them hire a candidate on the spot and one they would completely avoid.

1) Mark Britt, CEO of iflix

Mark named the two traits that he’d look out for in hires is adaptability and curiosity.

As iflix is a rapidly growing business, Mark said that it’s important for their team members to have a learning mindset and to be able to embrace change. He places high importance on their employees being adaptable and curious—as it contributes to iflix’s success.

For the one quality they would like to avoid, Mark says it’s less about any one trait but more about ensuring that successful candidates embody their shared values.

Image Credit: iflix

“We created The Tao of iflix to express what those values are, and to celebrate how we live these. Working in a highly cooperative and diverse company, along with the geographic challenges of running a global business, this shared manifesto is the foundation for creating a positive, thriving work environment,” said Mark.

2) Dato’ Henry Goh, COO of Macrokiosk

Dato’ Henry shared that he would look for those who have a sense of self-management and self-initiative.

Judging by his own experience when running a business, he notices there is a big loss of productivity when too much time is spent on just managing people—especially those that require constant pushing before things are done.

“Many candidates I met displayed very good personal qualities but during the interview, they are not able to portray self-initiative. That gives me the feeling that they will require micro-management in the way they deal with issues,” said Dato’ Henry.

Macrokiosk operates by setting objectives for their employees and giving them free reign to develop ideas and strategies to accomplish them. It helps them explore their own creativity while also getting the job done.

But for this to be effective, trust among employees is needed.

“Which indirectly means we will need ‘self-initiated’ employees. Based on my experience, this will increase productivity, teamwork and create a sense of ownership within our employees,” said Dato’ Henry.

What he would avoid are people who are self-centred, as he would hope to have employees who aren’t just interested in what the company can offer.

3) Chia Yong Wei, Group CEO of Microlink

Yong Wei said he looks for candidates who can think structurally; meaning he goes for those who can string ideas or activities logically.

So during interviews, he tends to ask candidates in detail about their past activities and projects to figure out their thought process, such as how they manage dependencies, how they had used their resources, and time management.

“I often encounter brilliant people who crumble under time pressure and are just inefficient at maximising effort against time,” said Yong Wei.

He also looks for those who can communicate their ideas and achievements effectively. He would take note of how they articulate their story based on the context given, and the sequence of events.

As Microlink’s industry depends on punctuality, he would avoid candidates who don’t place importance on time management.

Image Credit: focusmalaysia.my

“Punctuality is a good indication of a person’s ability to keep time, and in our line of business of delivering applications and systems on time is a good measure of the overall calibre of the organisation. Being punctual also shows that the person is respectful of other people’s time, unless there’s a good reason,” said Yong Wei.

4) Chu Jenn Weng, CEO of ViTrox

Jenn Weng first mentioned he would seek out candidates with a sense of passion. He said people with passion will aim to achieve excellence in everything they do and will go that extra mile.

The other trait is servant leadership, which he defines as people who care for others and are generous in growing others with a grateful heart.

The reason that he picked these qualities is because he feels it matches the core values of his company.

“We believe ordinary people can achieve extraordinary success by practising integrity, accountability, courage, trust, and gratitude (IACTG) within oneself and with others every day. IACTG is the key ingredient in creating harmonious, high performance teamwork and serving culture in ViTrox,” said Jenn Weng.

The quality he would avoid is employees who are too ‘calculating’ as he believes this goes against what his company believes in.


The traits shared by the CEOs here are what most employers would look for across a variety of industries. There are other factors, which could be attributed to what makes a good employee, but finding the right talent who share the same values is a crucial part in making the right hiring decisions.

This, in part, is what companies under MDEC’s Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) programme receive help with. As these companies have already built a brand reputation the programme elevates and amplifies their visibility thus potentially introducing them to the right kind of talent.

In the end, it is important for companies to uphold their values and ensure that everyone under their brand understands these values so that there is little room for error.

  • This is the fourth part of our collaboration with MDEC GAIN. Our final piece in this series will go into sustaining scale-ups. Stay tuned!

Feature Image Credit: Compiled from iflix, Microlink, leaderonomics.com, and Macrokiosk. 

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(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)