One of my startup's
board members, Albert Wenger, said
: "As long as there
are one or more major positions or functions in a company that are not filled with or run by great people, it will be a drag on the effectiveness of everybody else."
couldn't agree more. But while the stakes are higher for major positions and functions, the absence of great people in any position becomes a drag on the effectiveness of everybody else. In other
words, truly great companies are possible only if their entire teams are great. And in this economy, you have to be the best because there's no room for the rest.
A company of
great people depends on the strength of the core management, the company culture and the hiring that ensues. The interviews and questions that decide new hires should closely reflect a well-codified
cultural framework, which defines: Why the company exists. What it stands for. What its aspiring values are. And what the ideal character traits and skills of its employees are.
be sure, interview questions vary across companies, cultures, roles and individual hiring managers. But are there simple, universal questions we all should ask? Are there fundamental questions that
reveal deep insight about people and their cultural fit? Questions that reliably predict which candidates are most likely to succeed? Questions that ensure a company will get better with each new
I've been revisiting this topic with colleagues as my own company grows and matures. I've been intrigued with two interview questions that are both interesting and
have potential for universal adoption. What do you think? Question One: On a scale of one to 10, how lucky are you -- and why?
question has received some attention lately amidst its application at Zappos, a customer-service company praised for its culture. The question is based on research by psychologist Richard Wiseman, who
explored psychological differences between people who consider themselves exceptionally lucky and those who consider themselves unlucky. His work revealed that people are not born lucky, but, without
realizing it, use four basic principles to create good fortune in their lives. They tend to:
- Have an attitude that maximizes chance
- Be in touch with and cultivate their intuition;
- Expect good fortunes, which become
self-fulfilling prophecies; and
- Thrive on bad fortune by taking control and creating positive outcomes.
According to Wiseman's Web
site, he's developed techniques that help people increase their good fortune by thinking and behaving more like lucky people. That's probably a great clinic for any organization, but I'd
like to hire lucky people in the first place. I want them on my side! Question Two: What do you do in your spare time?
the most important question after you've narrowed the pool of applicants down to those with the skills, experience, and knowledge to do the job. That's according to Peter Bregman, CEO of
Bregman Partners, who referenced the story of Captain C.B. Sullenberger on the HarvardBusiness.org blog
Captain Sullenberger is the hero pilot who softly glided his commercial jet into New York City's Hudson River after it lost both engines, saving the lives of all 155 people on board. Bregman
asked: "What do we know about Captain Sullenberger? If you were looking for a new pilot, could you have predicted he would have the skill, the presence, the leadership to become the star he is
Bregman says the first clue that Captain Sullenberger would become a hero is that, in his teens, when most of his friends were getting their driver's licenses, he
got his pilot's license. What did he do for fun? He flew glider planes. He was also an aviation accident investigator and improved training and methods for aircraft evacuations. One might consider
Captain Sullenberger's focus an obsession and dysfunctional. But, says Bregman: "Obsessions are one of the greatest telltale signs of success. Understand a person's obsessions and you
will understand natural motivation. The thing for which she would walk to the end of the earth."
Working at a startup amidst a competitive marketplace and down economy, I want
people on my team who would walk to the end of the earth. So dedicated to the dream and their individual discipline that they'd pursue it (or something similar) even if they weren't getting
paid for it, in their spare time
. For the record, I think it's important to be well-rounded and maintain life balance. But it's also meaningful if interests and activities outside the
workplace connect with the dream, directly or indirectly.
What are your best interview questions? Why