At Singularity University I was in the incredibly lucky situation to build a team pretty much from scratch. I spent a significant amount of time and energy vetting literally hundreds of candidates before I settled on the wonderful crew I now work with.
The thing with teams is — they make or break your company. It might sound like a platitude by now, but your team is everything. There is a reason why smart VCs keep telling the world that they invest into teams first, ideas second. Good teams figure out what to do, good ideas are just that: Good ideas. They will never turn into a good company without a stellar team in place.
With that being said — how do you find your dream team?
First: Invest time and energy into the process. Hiring is hard work. Probably one of the hardest things I do — it takes shitloads of time and energy to review applications, talk to candidates, be truly thoughtful and diligent.
Second: Ask the right questions. And ask lots of them. Personally I love to talk about past experiences and dig deep into specific areas — as I can learn more about a candidate from his past actions than from hypothetical answers to forward looking questions. I also want to understand how a candidate ticks and what drives her. One of my favorite questions is: What do you want to do two jobs from now and how does this job help you get there?
Third: Never settle for second best. And trust your gut. Don’t make the mistake of hiring someone where you have doubts or you feel there is something off. Chances are — your gut is right. And you end up with a candidate who is not the right fit.
If that all sounds like hard work — it is. And trust me: It’s worth it. You will spend a good 2,000 hours per year with this person (assuming you work about 240 days at 8 hours a day together). It’s worth spending a decent amount of effort on finding your perfect team.