The best workers are those who take things personally, says Jeffrey Swartz, the president and CEO of Timberland Co. To drive the point home, Swartz asks offbeat questions of new hires and prospective recruits. "In hiring, I'm desperately probing for the human inside the shell," he says. "If you aren't going to play at the level of personal, it's probably not going to be nourishing for either of us."

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