Written by Scot Chisholm
| February 02, 2024
This should be your goal as a leader. A team so good, they don’t really need you.
Here’s what that team looks like:
✓ Shares your values
✓ Doesn’t give up easily
✓ Needs little instruction
✓ Never stops learning
✓ Adapts well to change
✓ Lifts everyone around them
So, the question really is: how do you build such a team!?!?!
For me, it took a series of bad hires to learn that hiring based on resumes was not the path.
An “A-player” on one team could be a “C-player” on another team. And vice versa.
You see this all the time in sports. You have a struggling player get traded to a new team, and all of a sudden, they break out. In other words, the environment plays a massive role in the type of person that finds success on any given team.
This simple but profound insight changed the way I looked at hiring forever. Instead of hiring based on resume “experience,” I started screening for values and character traits that were best suited for our company and culture.
In this article, I’m going to teach you a new way to look at hiring talent and give you the top interview questions needed to only hire A-players.
Ready to build your A-Team? Let’s go. 👇
Company values are how the organization sees the world. It’s what you believe, what you stand for, and how you should act.
When an applicant’s values overlap with the company’s, then you know you’ve struck gold.
Because a team member who shares the same values as the company is 100x more likely to lean into their work, persevere through hard times, and become an example of what you want the culture to look like. And in turn, it supports the overall health and stability of the company.
The strongest applicants will know everything about your company already. They’re eager, scrappy, and ready to kick ass.
So, in an interview, start by testing how they match up to your company’s values. Try using these questions:
From here, it’s all about their character traits. I’m going to walk you through five traits that I believe are important for any team & company. My goal when hiring is to find people that can operate well in a self-managing environment. In other words, I’m looking to groom leaders.
HOWEVER, your culture could be slightly different. For example, the character traits of a successful employee at Zappos are probably a lot different than Goldman Sachs!
What I would suggest is starting with the list below, but then making sure you aren’t missing any. To do this, simply list the character traits of your best employees and then use those traits to screen applicants, as I do below.
Resilience is the key to success – both in life and in business.
Bouncing back in the face of adversity is something you would want in any employee, especially in a startup where change is the only constant.
Testing for resilience also gives you an inside look at how the candidate adapts (more on that later), manages stress, and collaborates with the rest of the team.
Resilience is also linked to mental and emotional well-being. Employees who can navigate challenges with resilience are more likely to maintain a positive work-life balance, reducing the risk of burnout and promoting overall employee health.
Example interview questions to test for resilience:
Independent thinkers are game changers. You want the classroom disrupter, not the teacher’s pet.
Being the best student in class really only proves that you can absorb and apply existing information. These folks often lack the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that takes an idea from good to great.
An independent thinker drives innovation. They’re creative, proactive, and resourceful.
Example interview questions to test for independent thinking:
Formal education, like university or advanced degrees, is a form of learning for sure. But I see it as a red flag if someone continues to get degree after degree and avoids the most potent form of learning there is – real-world experience.
So, I want to know two things:
Example interview questions to test for continuous learning:
Every day is different in a startup, which means adapting to change is critical.
People who have an allergic reaction to change are not going to work out. They figure out a process that works for them. It makes them feel comfortable. So when a change comes knocking, they are resistant because they don’t want it to disrupt their world.
Instead, you want people who are EXPECTING things to change. These folks understand that change is the only constant and will build their internal processes around that change.
Example interview questions to test for adaptability:
There’s nothing more crippling to your team and business than a shitty attitude.
There are endless reasons why testing for a good attitude is essential in hiring A-players. It ensures good team collaboration, keeps employee morale up, and directly impacts the company culture.
A positive attitude also fosters a team mindset conducive to effective problem-solving and creative thinking.
Example interview questions to test for attitude:
When it’s time to start interviewing people to join your A-Team, don’t waiver because their resume isn’t “impressive.”
Bet on the person who aligns with your values and checks out the characteristics most important to your company!
I promise you, it’ll be worth the risk.
But let’s not stop there… here are three ways that I might be able to help your business go from underdog to unstoppable: