Here’s the secret to building a successful company: You need to hire the right people. It sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly hard to tell who will succeed based on a 15-second resume skim, or even a 30-minute interview. Who will be a rock star and who will be, well, a decent employee who gets his job done, then goes home at night and leaves no lasting impression?
So, how do I know who is right for my company, Eventbrite? Well, I look beyond someone’s resume and cover letter, and even an Ivy League background—choosing instead to examine the person’s character. And after being deeply involved with recruiting and team-building at Eventbrite, I’ve learned that amazing Britelings all share the same four traits in common. And no matter what industry you’re in or what your product is, these are qualities that every employee should have if you want your team to succeed.
Or, what we fondly refer to around here as “The Make it Happen Spirit.” When the going gets tough, when the obstacles mount, and when the resources are scarce, people with grit always find a way to make it happen. Rather than focusing on the possibility of failure—which is always a possibility—they hit the ground running. And they do it with so much creativity and motivation that they leave the mere idea of failure in the dust.
To assess the trait of grit in a candidate, I often ask, “Tell me about a time you were facing great adversity in your role or schooling.” Here’s the secret: I’m more interested in the tactics this person used to overcome the obstacle than the actual obstacle itself.
2. Collaborative Tendencies
The power of our company lies within the creative strength of the collective team. Oftentimes, we reach our goal faster by culling each individual’s strengths and working together to find the best solution. The notion of “consensus-driven” decision-making doesn’t fly around here, because we know the power of diverse thinking and coordinated effort always leads to success. So, there’s no room for destructive egos in our office. Instead, we relish the idea of reaching our destination together, because we know we’re always better for it.
Here, I’ll ask the candidate to describe the best office environment he or she ever been a part of. In the answer, I look for a person who clearly understands (and respects!) that collaboration is the heart of a winning team.
One of our core values is learning—we seek to constantly be moving forward. The more curious a person is, the more likely he or she is to be open to learning, always looking for new information. Everyone I hire wants to understand the undercurrents of our business and the world around us.
I typically assess curiosity and love for learning based on how the candidate describes his or her motivations for changing jobs, as well as based on the questions he or she asks me. Hint: Anyone can ask how we came up with the idea to start Eventbrite. I’m actually more impressed with educated and probing questions around our company’s philosophies and strategy.
Emotional intelligence is high on my list for must-haves in a great team member. That’s not because we want to have a homogenous community of social beings. It’s because empathy is the root of mindfulness, connection, great leadership, and deep bonds. This drives the foundation of trust in an organization and equates to teams pushing each other to be better and achieve greater things together.
To be completely honest, this is much more of an unspoken vibe I get from being in the room with the candidate. Empathy is palpable and has as much more to do with body language and eye contact than it does with conversation.
I can’t predict the future, or who will be the highest performer at Eventbrite from one interview, but I do notice that grit, collaboration, curiosity, and empathy are key indicators of success. Those employees are intrinsically motivated, hungry to do more, and continue to surprise us with their ability to fail quickly, learn fast, and accomplish more than expected.