ATLANTA, GA – I heard a great story the other day about Charles Butt. Mr. Butt ran one of the most successful grocery retail companies in the U.S. The story goes that whenever Mr. Butt would interview a candidate, he’d secretly ask himself “Can I see this candidate doing well in the company when we are FOUR TIMES the size we are today?”

Why so aggressive? Mr. Butt knew that the average careerspan at his company was 10 years. He also knew that if his business was growing at 15% per year (which it did for a long time), then the business would QUADRUPLE in size during the candidate’s career. And as far as Mr. Butt was concerned, there was no point in hiring someone who wasn’t “scalable.”

Do you ask yourself this question during interviews? At the very least, you should be interviewing not only against the skills required of the job today — but of the skills that will be required of the job when your operation is twice its current size. The last thing you want to do is outgrow your employees before they’ve outgrown you. It’s painful — and expensive.

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