Let's say your company is in trouble—new competitors are coming on strong, and it's your job to assemble a crack team to act fast, solve problems and secure the firm's future. What qualities would you look for? Would you try to pick the people with the most experience? The strongest résumés? The highest IQs? These traits are important, but your best bet might be to observe your candidates at a cocktail party. In that setting, you could quickly get a sense of how well they find new ideas, make allies and discover potential conflicts.