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What’s the X-Factor for a Perfect Hire?

By Seth Kaufman


Calvin Schmidt

Johnson & Johnson’s Calvin Schmidt Shares His Hiring Criteria


For Johnson & Johnson Senior Vice President Calvin Schmidt, failure is an option – at least when evaluating the ideal job candidate.


Schmidt, who is also Worldwide Leader, Government Affairs & Policy at the pharmaceutical giant, spoke about building innovative culture during a Vanguard Forum for Life Sciences and Healthcare Leaders. And he urged C-suite executives to embrace candidates who have made mistakes.


“I will tell you from my HR days — I have a lot of experience to draw on here – don’t get wooed by a resume and by a good talk,” advised Schmidt. “Experience does matter. So to the extent you can hire people with some experience, especially failures — I know that sounds counterintuitive — that is super valuable.”

The former President of Janssen Pharmaceuticals stressed that a mission-driven organization needs to allow for imperfection within the ranks.

“In culture and in an organization, how you manage your personal energy reflects how your organization is going to respond, and that personal energy reflects the culture,” said Schmidt. “And if the culture is purpose-driven, and you’re honest — not the brand image you want it to be, but who you really are as a culture — that will drive the organization and give permission to make mistakes.”

Schmidt shared his thoughts on corporate culture, leadership and team building with Vanguard CEO Ken Banta. You can read a transcript of their conversation or listen to a podcast of the talk.


These thoughts are taken from a dialogue conducted on Nov 7-8, 2018. Participants may have changed companies and/or titles since then.


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