How can you evaluate the caliber of people at a company before joining it?

Here are 10 tips:

Quality of their interview questions. Pay particular attention to their follow up questions. The quality of an interviewer’s follow up questions is a good indicator of rigorous thinking. Did they just ask obvious follow up Qs or insightful ones? Did they make you think?

Overall rigor of the hiring process. If they aren’t rigorous when hiring you, if the process to get an offer seems “too easy”, they will do the same for future hires, leading to a progressive lowering of the talent bar. A very onerous hiring process isn't a good sign either.

Quality of *their* responses to your questions. Are the answers honest, nuanced? Do they express vulnerability? What is the clarity of their thinking? Are they generally good listeners? etc

Preparation & presence is key. You need to conceive good questions & intently listen.

Watch the tone & style of their communication at least as much as the content of the communication. Make sure it is aligned with your values and preferences (e.g. do you sense hubris? arrogance? fake caring? too sales-y? too transactional? adequate empathy? etc.)

Background of the people who already work there (look on LinkedIn & Glassdoor reviews). Specifically, look for past evidence of clearing a high bar. This isn't about fancy colleges or prior employers. Have they created something from nothing? Leadership activities? etc.

Once a company has indicated that they want to extend an offer, I do an extensive Reverse Interview process with the company. Even if that isn’t possible in your situation, a reasonable company will accept your request to speak with 3-4 people for 30 minutes each. Ask for it.

Ask the hiring manager who s/he thinks are the best 3-5 people at the company. Who best represents the company's culture, values, and operating approach? Ask to speak with a subset of them to help inform your decision.

(this is my most favorite tip)
Not only does this provide great signal on what the company’s best people are like, but if you accept the offer, it also gives you ready-made relationships with some of the best people at the company, which will be very useful for you when ramping up and also over the long term.

For mid-level to senior roles at startups, you should be able to speak with a board member or investors. If a startup declines this request for a senior role (VP or higher), treat it as a yellow flag. Many investors say very positive things, so try to “hear between the lines”

If it’s a B2B/enterprise company, speak with the company’s customers (e.g. friends/former colleagues who use the company’s product). Besides asking about the product, ask them about the caliber of people they’ve interacted with at this company and any cultural red flags?

Know that assessing the caliber of people at a company from the outside is part art, part science. During a typical interview process, you will have picked up 100s of subtle signals that will inform your gut feeling about just how good the people are. So listen to your gut.

A high caliber team isn’t just a collection of smart people. The most accurate indicator of the caliber of people at a company is the quality of its execution. So be sure to track the product & the comms that the company puts out publicly. Look for insight, quality, pace.
And if you are a founder or leader at a startup, most of these tips are applicable to you, but in reverse. Consider them as you design your hiring process, train interviewers, and devise policies on how you will support candidates who want to learn more about your company.
If you found this thread useful, check out this recent thread with the ideas I often share with talented tech people who are looking for their next role

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More from @shreyas

2 Jul
Over the past 10 years, I’ve had more than 500 chats with talented tech folks about their job change decisions: should I leave my well-paid FAMG job? should I join Stripe, Facebook or Airbnb? how to evaluate this offer? etc

A thread with 8 ideas I’ve often shared in these chats:

Each of us has different aspirations, skills & values. No thread can definitively cover everyone’s situation while still offering a new & useful perspective. This stuff likely won’t apply outside tech/startups & won’t apply worldwide.

Take what resonates, ignore the rest.
I highly recommend working at a fast-growth company at least once in one’s career.

(doing it more than once might not hurt either :) )

I’ve seen that even smart & talented people struggle with how to create their shortlist of fast-growing companies.

Here’s what I tell them:
Read 34 tweets
29 Jun
When in a high leverage role:

Stop doing work that simply provides a positive return on investment.

Start focusing on work that minimizes opportunity cost.
In a high leverage role:

100s of things will provide a positive ROI (i.e. the value created is greater than the cost of your time)

You should not be doing most of those things

When your goal is to minimize opportunity cost, you are forced to focus on the highest leverage work.
ROI = (Value created — Cost of your time) ÷ Cost of your time

So if your goal is to get high ROI in your work, you can do two things:

Increase Value i.e. work on higher value things

Decrease Cost i.e. work on things that take less time
Read 11 tweets
27 Jun
There's a lot of confusion on evaluating a candidate’s Product Sense in interviews.

So let’s analyze bad, good, great answers to an interview question:

"Why do threads on Twitter typically get more engagement than a tweet that links to a blog post with the same content?"

I don’t actually use this specific question when I interview candidates, but you do need a question like this *as a part of* your overall Product Sense interview. This question mainly assesses a candidate’s cognitive empathy & ability to analyze product-user interactions.
If you want to learn more about Product Sense & its components, check out this article afterwards:…
Read 40 tweets
26 Jun
A common problem & question in fast-growing startups is how a visionary product-focused founder can scale as the product, business & the org get larger & more complex.

A thread on the types of product leaders to hire, the contracts to create, the mistakes to avoid:
Quick recap on the 3 types product leaders:
The Operator
The Craftsperson
The Visionary
(think of them as hats, if you wish)

First, the really obvious point:
As a founder/CEO who is a product Visionary, you will need Craftspeople & Operators around you.
Don’t solely hire Operators in product leadership roles. Remember, Operators tend not to be the best at original product insights & strategy. With just Operators on the product team, it is near-impossible to translate your great vision into a compelling product experience.
Read 24 tweets
24 Jun
Courage is perhaps the least discussed attribute of highly successful product people and among the most vital.

It sounds too elementary, so most people don't consider courage when they are evaluating how to maximize their impact.
Adding some more thoughts/examples:

Without courage, ambition cannot be born nor realized.

Read 4 tweets
11 Jun
A few recommendations, in no particular category or order:
The Psychology of Money by @morganhousel

I am not the first nor the last person to recommend this superb book. I wish this book existed when I was in my 20s & 30s, so I could have avoided making dozens of money mistakes. As a bonus, it also provides A+ lessons on clear thinking.
The Mom Test by @robfitz

Some followers had recommended this book to me before. I finally got around to reading it in 2021.

IMO it is a must-read for founders, PMs, engineers, etc. who are building B2B/SaaS products. (will help you avoid many mistakes & get to the Truth faster)
Read 7 tweets

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