The thumbs-up or thumbs-down approach to team building

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Christina Hernandez Sherwood, eMed Editor, MedCity News

Interviewees shouldn't expect traditional questions when they're applying for a position at Limeade, a corporate wellness space focused on building high-performance workforces. Founder and CEO Henry Albrecht asks potential employees about their experiences and interactions to get a sense of how they'll address future situations. "We always look for people better than ourselves," he said. "Then you don't have to worry so much about who they're going to hire."

Using techniques of behavioral interviewing, the Limeade team asks candidates probing questions meant to "peel the onion." For instance, a candidate might be asked, "What's the biggest challenge you faced in the last year -- and how did you overcome it?" While Albrecht admits that question isn't revolutionary, it leads to important insights about the candidate as the Limeade team asks follow-up questions and drills into details in the answer. Another popular interview question at Limeade: "What is the thing you're most proud of that isn't on your resume?"

This process helps the Limeade team determine if potential candidates embody one of their company's core values: "be it." "We expect people to embrace the process of improvement," Albrecht said. "It's important to us that a candidate demonstrate their excitement and passion about our product and mission. We're not just hiring people to fill seats. We want people who want to help measurably improve people's well-being."

After these team interviews -- at least four Limeade employees meet with any potential hire -- the group does an instant thumbs up or thumbs down tally. There are no sideways thumbs allowed, Albrecht said.

At Limeade, Albrecht looks for new team members who have a sense of curiosity, a love of adventure, and an enjoyment of intellectual exercises (because Limeade's business opportunity is a complex equation and tough problem to solve). But most importantly, the people who join the company must be willing to carry its values forward. "You could have the most brilliant person in the world," Albrecht said, "but if they don't believe, when things go wrong they're going to leave."

Here are some other entrepreneurial insights from Albrecht:

Keep investors in the loop -- Investors sometimes get a bad rap for being difficult to deal with, Albrecht said, but spending time on investor relations can forestall problems. One method is to distribute to investors quarterly updates that include information on cash position, financial performance, sales, marketing, and the team, he said. "If they always know where they stand and you give them a quick update," Albrecht said, "then you've prevented about 95 percent of the questions that might come in."

Remember the importance of customer validation -- Limeade performs usability research, contextual inquiry (ie. meeting with customers in their jobs), and rapid prototyping to stay on top of customer validation, Albrecht said. The company uses UserTesting.com and other tools to monitor customer reactions as they use Limeade products, he said. When deploying a product to a large company, Albrecht said, the team goes on site to meet with the customers and discuss the product.

[Top photo by Dita Margarita]

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