Adam Bryant of the New York Times recently interviewed Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio. Here's a great exchange from that interview:
How do you hire?
I look for a certain spark. It’s almost like having a chip on their shoulder — there’s something they want to get done in life, and they’ve got something to prove. If I can help them do that, they will be massively contributing to the company. That’s where you get the passion and drive and energy to do great things. One of my favorite questions is, “What do you want to learn next?” Another way to ask that is, “What are the properties of the next role you want?” Some people say, “I want to join a start-up,” or they give some attributes of a company. Then I’ll say, “What I’m really trying to understand is, what is it that you are going to find interesting?” I’m trying to find if they have a clear sense of what makes them tick.
What do you want to learn next? Now that is a terrific question. We want people who are eager to develop and improve. We want people in our organizations who have not, or are less likely to, grow stale in their development. This question focuses them not on the company that they are joining, or the specific title that they will hold. Instead, it focuses them on how they will grow by taking on a new challenge. The answer undoubtedly tells the interviewer a great deal about the person's drive and capacity to grow and adapt over time.