Smart and Gets Things Done is a good weeder function to filter out some of the common "epic fail" types.Smart people who can do stuff is one thing. But, getting people who constantly push everyone to learn and improve, who help build the culture, who make people do more than they ever thought possible, there lies the gold.
But realize that this approach has a cost: it will also filter out some people who are just as good as you, if not better, or even way better, along dimensions that are entirely invisible to you.
So there's this related interviewing/hiring heuristic that I think may better approximate the kinds of people you really want to hire: Done, and Gets Things Smart.
You don't want someone who's "smart". You're not looking for "eager to learn", "picks things up quickly", "proven track record of ramping up fast".
No! Screw that. You want someone who's superhumanly godlike. Someone who can teach you a bunch of stuff. Someone you admire and wish you could emulate, not someone who you think will admire and emulate you.
You want someone who, when you give them a project to research, will come in on Monday and say: "I'm Done, and by the way I improved the existing infrastructure while I was at it."
Working with them directly ... you'll see that virtually every problem space has a ... component that you were blissfully unaware of until Done, and Gets Things Smart gal points it out to you and says, "There's an infinitely smarter approach, which by the way I implemented over the weekend."
These people aren't just pure gold; they're golden-egg-laying geese ... They're your seed engineers: the ones who will make or break your company with both their initial technical output and the engineering-culture decisions they put into place.
There is one spot where I might disagree with Steve, assuming I am at all qualified to do so. Steve implies that "Done, and Get Things Smart" people are born that way. Rather, I think they learn from other "Done, and Get Things Smart" people.
At Amazon.com, for example, the seed engineers Steve mentioned had an enormous influence on each other and those around them, pushing everyone to be better. People who already had some "Done, and Get Things Smart" tendencies were pushed further. Others learned from and sought to emulate the masters.
"Done, and Get Things Smart" is made. We can all strive to achieve it. Even if we fail, we will all be better for the attempt.