Interviewing candidates for a job

ImagesInterviewing candidates for a job in your company is exciting on one hand but nail biting on the other because essentially you want to make the right choice.  I am a big fan of the saying hire slowly and fire quickly because a bad hire can disrupt the company in so many ways.  It is important that the person you hire in any capacity fits into the company.  The culture of the company is so key.  If everyone does lunch together on Fridays and someone doesn't want to be part of that then they are not the right fit for the company.  Happy people who are drinking the same kool-aid make for better organizations.

We were talking about the conversations that people have when interviewing a potential candidate.  Someone was given this advice which I thought was genius.  Ask the question "How lucky are you on a scale of 1-10"?  The answers you get are amazing.  Gives you real insight into a person.  Someone even suggested a simple question like "How is your handwriting"?  

Certainly getting someone to do a short project gives you insight too.  I also believe if you think they are the right person take them out for a drink before making the ask if this person is going to fill a major role in your company.  Not coffee but a real drink so guards are down.  You learn a lot.  

I went on an interview years ago and the person asked me one question.  He said "How organized are you"? I laughed out loud and answered with a look of are you kidding me and said "Very".  He basically said great, interview over, you are hired.  It ended up being a great job and I loved working for him.  

It is the simplicity of the question that can sometimes tell you more about the person on the other side of the table than anything else.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Aside to this.Hiring is what we do when we make companies. Recruiting today and recruiting a decade or more ago is basically, process and costs wise, the same.Any innovations in that area you know of?

    1. Gotham Gal

      the only innovations are the many online sites that allow you to talk to candidates from afar. the most important thing is hiring someone who fits into the company culture from the very beginning.

      1. awaldstein

        YupThere is some tech disruption happening from the CMS side for recruiters as that is a giant mess of old outdated proprietary systems and databases.Talking to one and it’s a market that can be mopped up.

  2. Rohan

    One interesting experience I had 4 years back was when the interviewer basically walked in and said – alright, you have 30 mins – you can talk about whatever you like, ask me as many questions as you like.I thought that was cool. I didn’t want to take it forward for different reason but was a cool round 1 format, I thought. I’d like to try it out sometime.

  3. Susan Rubinsky

    I was once on an interview and was asked what my favorite movie was and why. After I was hired, I asked the COO why he had asked that question. He said he was gauging a few different things:1) Was I going to get excited? (I did) – He wanted someone who got excited about new things/ideas (In this case, being asked an unusual/unexpected question during a rather formal interview.)2) Was my selection going to be different/unusual? (it was) – He wanted someone who selected something that wasn’t the latest blockbuster but something unusual which would indicate I was someone who was interested in things beyond what we’re all spoonfed by the media3) How did I go about assessing the movie? Was it thoughtful and interesting? (My thought process was) – How does the candidate think? Will they be able to collaborate with the team to brainstorm and solve problems?I now use that question or variations of it. It is really telling!

    1. Gotham Gal

      totally telling. if you have a culture of people who what people interested in things beyond and the person says i never go to the movies….well then.

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        Someone who never goes to the movies may be interesting too. maybe they stay home and read books 🙂

        1. Gotham Gal

          ha. need another question or a good answer.

          1. Lisa Abeyta

            I haven’t been to a movie in years. I’d likely not get hired on that question. 🙂

  4. Wabi Sabi Ecofashionconcept

    Some of the best advise I was ever given was about job interviews. First qualify the candidates for skills. You will come up with a short list of potentials that can all do the job. Then interview again with the idea that you will be travelling for 2 weeks to Japan together, sharing not only work but also all your meals and leisure time during the trip. The best candidate for the job is the person you prefer to travel with.

  5. Lisa Abeyta

    I read this post with a lot of interest, Joanne, because in a little over a year’s time, our company has gone from myself and one intern to ten employees and looking to hire three more in the next few weeks. Many of our employees are very young – still on college or right out of college – and the one question I love to ask young candidates is what their dream position would be in ten years, because I want to see how big they are thinking. I want a team of people who believe lofty goals are possible, because they won’t be afraid of taking on big challenges that are almost always a part of working at a startup. I also love the unusual questions to get a view into who someone is as a person, not a worker, so I’m definitely adding yours to my repertoire.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i like that question. very smart.

  6. William Mougayar

    The hiring trend today with startups is towards simplicity as well, and hiring fast (and firing faster). Only large companies are still stuck with the slow-mo hiring processes.Wordpress is notorious for hiring instantly via a trial period, after which it becomes obvious whether there’s a fit or not. Matt Mullenweg says their retention stats are quite high because of that process.Last week while at Techstars NY, one of the companies I was mentoring is a hiring service for new grads, and its basis is starting with a 3-month trial.

  7. Anne Libby

    I like to ask people to talk about a time that they disappointed a customer. The question surfaces a host of important items, from whether they understand who the customer is/why she is important, to a tendency to take responsibility vs. place blame.People will say the darnedest things in response to a few simple open-ended questions…and they’ll tell you everything you need to know.

  8. AG

    Great post. “How lucky are you…” What a phenomenal question. I’m not sure, though, how I would fare on handwriting skills. Then again, it’s all in the framing of the answer, right?

  9. Mario Cantin

    I consume a lot of content — and I can go entire days without finding truly useful information. By comparison this post is so very useable that I made sure to save a copy of it in my Evernote so it becomes part of my repertoire — thank you.

    1. Gotham Gal

      thanks mario!

  10. brandoncarl

    Thanks Joanne – I love the “lucky” question!One technique that I’ve found, while uncomfortable for both the interviewer and the interviewee, is to ask a problem solving question that is highly relevant to the role, but intentionally somewhat beyond the candidate’s capabilities. Sit with them as they struggle through it, and teach them a bit as you go.This isn’t meant to be sadistic, but sometimes it can take 5 or 10 minutes. The things you learn are outstanding: how the person operates under pressure, whether or not they can admit when they are wrong, or just don’t know, whether they have the composure and tenacity to see the problem to the end, and how they learn new concepts.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Interesting. Like a project in person