Tips for Interviewing Someone

Interviewing is like golf.  Anyone can do it, but it’s hard to be good at it.  The goal is to quickly ascertain if a candidate is a worthy member of your team and if they are then to inspire them to want to work with your company.  Here are tips to be successful:

Blink
(From the book by Malcolm Gladwell) Your subconscious is better at interviewing than you  are. It can tell, within a few seconds if someone is good or bad.  When you shake someone’s hand, spend the next 30 seconds really examining how you FEEL about the candidate. Remember or jot down your first impressions.

Imagine
Imagine the conversation you are having isn’t an interview.  Imagine you are having a meeting and trying to figure out the solution to some problem.  Forget what they are saying, focus on how the interaction is.  Can you imagine yourself working through a problem together in a good way.

Don’t ask stupid questions
Never ask something like “Tell me about yourself.”  Think about the specific values you want to know if they have.  For example, I believe product managers should be really good at research, so I ask, “How did you prepare for today’s interviews?”  I am looking to see how thorough they were.  Sometimes people didn’t have time to research so I say, “Fine, if you had 3 weeks to prepare, tell me all of the things you would do to prepare for a job you really wanted.”  I am just looking for the “value” of research.  Ask a question that gets to the heart of what you want.

Sell Sell Sell
Make the person WANT to work with you.  Explain why the company vision/mission/culture is great.  Explain why you matter.  Great people are hard to recruit.  The interview process is a two-way street.   Don’t be arrogant and think this is some sort of hazing ritual.  Great candidates are your goal, not people desperate for any job they can find.  Having a little “different” in your interview style will go a long way.

Have a rating system
It’s a good thing to normalize your rating of candidates.  We use the following:

  • 0 = No way, Jose.  The candidate is a loser.
  • 1 = Meh.  Maybe you could be talked into it.
  • 2 = Yes.  A thumbs up rating.
  • 3 = Holy Cow!  We gotta hire this person NOW!

You are allowed 1 decimal for precision, so a 1.8 is someone who is pretty good…you just need a nudge to push you over the edge.  When you meet your peers and evaluate candidates, use the system to keep everyone ranking in the same way.  Plus it’s fun.

Happy Interviewing!

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