Executive Careers Blog

How to Build the Best Team

Young Employees

You’ve heard the clichés, but they exist for a reason.

First off, you know you can’t do it all by yourself.

You need a team.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link – and the same goes for a team.

It might not work to have all MVPs, but it’s certainly worth trying to surround yourself with the best and brightest. (In fact, when it comes to talent and expertise, I like it when I am the weakest link - providing the leadership and guidance, while letting my outstanding teammates score all the touchdowns!)

Finding winners for your team is way easier said than done.

Great talent is always in short supply (even in the worst economy since the Great Depression) and harder to identify than some people think. Therefore, I always try to locate folks whom I have personally worked with before. Obviously, that’s the surest way to ensure success. My second choice is to identify a candidate who can be vouched for by someone I have worked with before, or know well. Getting verification from known parties is always superior to vetting and interviewing strangers.

But clearly, sometimes we have to rely on a “stranger” to fill one position or more on our team.

And beyond vetting the resume, or hiring the candidate provisionally, the interview is all we have to go on.

How can we increase the likelihood of success?

The best advice is to ask open-ended questions and then listen carefully to the answers.

Here are some examples of open-ended questions:

  • How would describe your leadership style?
  • Tell me all about your greatest strength and greatest weakness….
  • Why did you move from Company A to Company B?

Questions that begin in “how” or “why” or “tell me about” elicit more subjective and far-ranging answers, which will give you more information about what’s really going on with the candidate. And one final tip for “strangers” – make sure to ask them why they want to work at your company and for you. This is a good way to check their thoroughness. You only want people on your team who go to the trouble of preparing.

In today’s world, there is no excuse for not knowing a lot about the company and the interviewer.

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Erik Sorenson is CEO of Vault, the Web’s most comprehensive resource for career management and job search intelligence. Vault provides top talent with the insider information they need to make critical career decisions. An Emmy award-winning media industry veteran, Erik served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel through 2004. His experience spans radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Web.

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