But the most important thing she said, in my opinion, was also the simplest. An attendee asked Marissa how she went about building her team over the last decade.
Her answer: “I like to hire people who have two traits. They’re smart, and they get things done.”
She also talked about the joy of working with a team where every member was passionate about the project. But the key message resonated. Smart people who aren’t closers tend to flail. Small startups get rid of these people fast because they stand out. But sometimes they can find a place to hide in larger organizations where they fester like a cancer. If a company the size of Google can avoid hiring them in the first place, it’s a serious competitive advantage.
From my own experience, team members that you can rely on to just take on work and complete tasks are rare, but worth spending the time to find. It’s not always clear from interviews or reference checks that they have these traits. But you know within a month of hiring them. That’s why most of the people we hire we try out for a month before either side commits. And we also end up hiring a good percentage of our interns on a permanent basis, too. After spending a summer with them, you know what they’re made of.