Turns out being co-CEOs means you spend a good part of your time interviewing. We’ve been told you interview talent forever. We’d like to say that this is really fun, but then we’d be lying.
You quickly develop a stack of interview questions. Seeing how differently people respond to open ended questions has made us rethink our previous lives on the other side of the hiring process. Sometimes that has helped us weed out candidates…ASAP.
QUESTION: Why are you looking to leave your current job?
What you shouldn’t say: Because I hate my boss. Or at least how they handle things.
What we’ve learned: Everyone has had bosses and jobs they don’t like but bringing up the negative during an interview is more of a reflection on the interviewee than their boss. Fair or not, it’s a sign you could bring work drama and/or don’t go with the flow. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Plus, if you talk badly about your current employer, what would prevent you from talking badly about your future one?
QUESTION: Tell me about yourself.
What we used to say: Work. work. work. work.
What we’ve learned: Your interviewer wants to work with a person, not a resume. When people start the answer with where they’re from, we are suddenly drawn into conversation. At a startup especially, you are looking for a culture fit. You want to genuinely like your co-workers when you work in such a small team and getting more insight into someone’s character and their personality is a lot more interesting to hear about than an oral resume.
QUESTION: What are you looking to get out of this role?
What you shouldn’t say: Exposure to your investors
What we’ve learned: The investor syndicate is 100% part of the sales pitch to top-tier talent and definitely went into our thinking while finalizing our round. But knowing someone wants to work with us JUST to get close to one of our investors does not give them a gold star in our book.
QUESTION: Tell me what your first day would like look
What you shouldn’t say: I’ll take a few weeks to get caught up to speed.
What we’ve learned: That answer is totally a fair thing to say. Also, totally not what we want to hear. Early startups need to move at lightning speed. We are looking for people that come in with actionable plans to get things done. No one has six months to get up to speed.