How to Build The Best Team

November 15, 2019

It’s fun to watch our thinkspace companies grow. We have members who began with a hot desk in our Lake Union space who have expanded into larger and then multiple offices for space for their growing teams. In Redmond we have members who expand into larger offices and then office suites, where renovations and custom space to suit needs is attainable. It’s important to thinkspace to support the entrepreneur at every stage, which is why we have the services and products we do. Recently I was sitting at the bar in Pacific Crest, our large coworking space overlooking Lake Union, talking with one of our members about their exciting growth: 30 new hires in their periphery! Though this is exciting for any business, fast growth and rapid hiring adds pressure and anxiety around culture fit. How do small businesses who have worked hard to create the right culture thus far, ensure with fast growth this goes smoothly? How do you scale company culture?

I find intriguing reads often and most recently one about hiring- a topic that in the entrepreneurial world is most definitely searched about frequently. Candidates will deliver a thoughtfully articulated resume and a cover letter carefully personalized for the position. Once you’ve selected individuals for interviewing it’s worth a pause to come up with key questions to get the most out of the 30-60 minutes you’ve set aside for getting to know them.

When you’re scaling quickly, moving at warp speed, and sitting on several hiring panels, interviewing can seem like a task you just need to get through. But it’s worth pausing to remember that the decision to hire someone is an expensive and far-reaching one. And since you’re forced to make it after spending (at most) a few hours together, maximizing what you can learn about candidates in those precious few minutes becomes all the more crucial.”

In this article from First Round Review I’m fascinated to review such thought-provoking interview questions which should open a world of understanding into a candidates’ career ambitions, work ethic, and how they respond to challenges. Growing your company isn’t an easy feat, but hopefully you’ll find value in the questions offered. Too busy to read? Here are a few of my favorite with commentary from their authors:

  • What’s something great about your current or previous job? Why?

“Asking this question in interviews tells me two different things…First, I learn what someone loves and values — what’s important to them. Second, they nearly always follow up with a qualifier.” That second piece is very instructive. It helps me understand where they feel uncomfortable, unsupported, or generally unhappy.”

  • What are you really good at, but never want to do anymore?

“It’s amazing how often people answer saying they never want to do exactly what I’m hiring for in this role.”

  • What do you believe you can achieve with us personally or professionally that you can’t anywhere else in the world?

“I like it because candidates reveal their individual motivations, creativity, and commitment to our mission all in one response.” Most importantly, if a candidate is able to articulate her ambitions and how we can help her achieve them, we are one step closer to closing her.”

  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake or failed at something. What did you learn from this experience? Can you give me two other examples?
“Asking for three examples gives me a better sense of someone’s actions and natural way of working. Everyone who’s adequately prepared for an interview has one rehearsed answer on learning from failure in their pocket. The folks who can point to three different times they’ve messed up show that they have a well-honed habit of looking objectively at a situation and talking openly about what they’d do differently. I’ve found that these people tend to naturally self-course-correct, are constantly learning, and are willing to share bad news quickly, which are must-haves on my team.”
  • What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from a peer and how have you used that lesson in your day-to-day life?
“I’m looking for a candidate’s ability to identify superpowers in those around them that they want to improve upon themselves. I like this question because it allows me to assess their self-reflection and growth mindset. Depending on the answer they provide, it can also be a good window into how humble they are.”


Picture of Stephanie Slaton

Stephanie Slaton