Build Your Startup Team With These 6 Characteristics To Filter Out The Duds

Build Your Startup Team With These 6 Characteristics To Filter Out The Duds

Over the years I’ve been involved in hiring 100’s of people for my companies.

In the early days when I started a new project I would just grab whoever was nearby and free.

There was ZERO process.

That’s why I struggled to succeed.

I’d say between the ages of 18 – 24 I worked with dozens of different people and most fell extremely short of my expectations.

I hired a bunch of duds.


I didn’t have a filter.

I didn’t know what to look for.

I had no clue what a high performer looked like.

(but apparently, “Cheap” and “Closeby” wasn’t a good way to find’em.)

That’s what this video is all about… the 6 characteristics I use today to hire incredible people.

… Driven people that buy in to your mission, and care about it as much as you do.

… Self-starters who create to-do lists, not just blindly follow them.

… Passionate problem solvers who come to me with solutions.

I stay away from the “problem” oriented people.

Be sure to watch this week’s video to understand the complete list and use it to quickly vet your next top hire.

When I’m interviewing and testing a new hire I’m always looking for the following characteristics:

– They take initiative
– Desire for excellence
– Bias for solution
– Are transparent
– Sense of urgency
– Customer empathy

If you find someone who’s talented and have these traits, then you’ve got a super-star.

Now, I know when I talk about hiring, everyone wants to ask what my top interview questions are…

If you’d like to know the answer, then I’ve got a favor to ask.

Leave a comment with your top interview questions and I’ll leave a couple of my best ones.

Can’t wait to read what you’ve got!



  • Steven Sashen

    I’ll tell you one of *my* favorite interview questions: Why should we NOT hire you?

    If they can’t give REAL answers, we don’t hire them 😉

    Okay, I’d love to hear your favorites.

    • Dan Martell

      If you didn’t have to work, what would compel you to come into the office?


  • Derric Haynie

    This comes at such a perfect time for me, as we are making our first crucial hire and it will make or break our company. Very confident that the person we chose has all 6, which makes me breath a little easier. Thanks Dan.

    • Dan Martell

      Derric, if they have all 6 and for whatever reason you don’t hire – send em’ my way… I make up positions for great people.


  • Steve Daar

    my best interview ‘technique’ more so than a question is to pay for a handful of hours of their time & give them a project. then see how it goes before we work together in a fuller capacity.

    tweaking something i tend to ask people i’m ALREADY working with a bit so that it fits as a potentially good interview question:

    “what was in place at past jobs that helped you perform your best?

    what was in place at past jobs that you felt were obstacles to you performing your best?”

    • Dan Martell

      Steve, great questions! Love those – adding to my list.

      One thing I do is to have them place visualize themselves in 5 years, then walk me through their day step by step.


  • Daniel Vianna

    Hi Dan, would you mind sharing how much do you spend with each video and what kind of professionals do you use? example : content writer, video editor, 1000 CAD? I’m blown away by the quantity and quality of videos you push every month

    • Dan Martell

      If you ever make it to one of my events, ask me – I’ll walk you through the whole break down. It’s not even close to $1000 – way less.

  • Vinish Garg

    Great post, yet again.

    One of the questions that I always ask is “What will you lose by declining our offer if we offer you eighty percent of your expected remuneration?” The objective is to know how strongly they feel the need or desire to work at vhite.

    And 9 out of 10 times, I am disappointed by the answer. I shared my experiences in this post:

    • Dan Martell

      Vinish, interesting question … appreciate you sharing.


  • Gus Rodgers

    This list is spot on. Especially when you have a small team you need people who tick those boxes. One characteristic that I would add to this list is a desire to learn. Employees who don’t want to grow, learn and then apply what they’ve learnt to their jobs are not going to have that drive for new ideas that will push a company forward. So I always ask:

    “what have you been learning recently”

    If people don’t have an answer, usually it means they have no desire to take learning upon themselves and in my mind they’re not going to have that hunger to learn and grow at your company.

    • Dan Martell

      Gus, totally agree.


  • Tammy Martin

    And here is the first one for your list of traits to NOT hire…”takers”. They’re toxic for all of the givers in your organization. Check this out:

    • Dan Martell

      Tammy, solid video / thanks!


  • Salvador Ramirez

    An Excellent Video Dan, in many ways, if you don’t have people who trust on your project or business, it will die …

    • Dan Martell

      As you grow, 100% … early days you can get away with “builders” but over time it’s hard to scale.


  • S Govindkrishna

    Some questions I use ( This is for tech people but I am assessing for attitude)

    I would add the following to your list
    Ability to handle failure.
    Toxic Team member or Collaborative team member

    What achievement of yours are you proud of?
    Have you ever done a technical project in your spare time out of your own interest?
    How would your boss describe you?
    How do you prioritize and complete tasks?
    Tell me the craziest misunderstanding you have experienced? And what did you do when you realized it was a misunderstanding.
    What has been your biggest disappointment in life?
    What has been the happiest moment in your life?
    What has been the toughest decision that you have had to make? What did you decide and why?
    Share an instance where you have been disappointed with your own behavior. (If he requires explanation – An incident happened and later you looked back and thought I should not have behaved like that)
    Share an instance where you are proud of your own behavior (if he requires explanation – A incident where you have behaved in a particular way and you feel not many people would have behaved like that)

    • Dan Martell

      Great list!


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