The quality of the individuals you hire is central to the effectiveness of your team, and crucial to your overall success.

Getting the right people on board is a top priority at Angie’s List, especially as our employee roster has ballooned from one – me – to more than 1,400.

Employees carry out our company mission every day, so I want to hire people who are:

·       Smart, adroit and able to adapt to a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment.

·       Confident enough to try something new and fail; we believe in trying things and tossing what doesn’t work.

·       Passionate about what we do, as well as strategic and no-nonsense in their approach.

·       Committed to their work, without taking themselves too seriously.

Peter Lazarz personifies these attributes. I met him in 2005, when he was a summer intern from Purdue University. After graduating with an economics degree the next year, he returned to work for us as a winner of a Governor Bob Orr Indiana Entrepreneurial Fellowship. I knew right away that Peter was a bright analyst and he quickly gained my trust and took over marketing analytics from me. Peter has continued to evolve over the years and today is my second in command in running our consumer marketing.

When I hire, I put a major focus on the face-to-face interview. A candidate may seem like a perfect fit on paper and over the phone, but there’s no substitute for witnessing his or her energy and approach in person.

You learn things in interviews you might not otherwise discover. This is as true for a prospective employee as it is for the manager. I remember going on a job interview where the supervisor’s style caused me to cross that company off my list. He would ask a question, I would answer, and he would say, in a monotone, “Thank you." Nothing else. No details, no give and take, no enthusiasm. This interaction told me it likely wouldn’t be an environment where I would be challenged and excel because I truly value feedback from my mentors and peers.

When I’m doing the interviewing, I want to know what attracted the candidate to Angie’s List, what interests him or her most about the job and why he or she is leaving the current or previous employer.

I’m always on the lookout for bright, talented people to bring into the fold. Some of my best hires were people I didn’t necessarily have a position for, but whose abilities and personality motivated me to find or make a spot for them.

When choosing among qualified candidates, I seek the one whose strengths and abilities best round out my own and those of other employees. I want to build a team that includes people who excel in the areas where my team and I are least strong.

After all, a great team working on a mediocre idea will do better than a mediocre team working on a great idea. For one thing, you can count on an excellent team to transform the idea itself. And hiring right is the key to it all.

Angie Hicks is founder and chief marketing officer of Angie’s List, the nation’s most trusted resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Follow her on Twitter at @Angie_Hicks

This content is re-blogged from a post by Angie Hicks in the "How I Hire" series on LinkedIn. View the original post here.