Interviewing can be hard and having the right questions to ask is extremely important. Below are some of the best questions to ask when interviewing. Always remember, interviewing is a two-way street, the candidate is looking for the right fit and you are looking for someone you can work with. Think to yourself “Can I work with this person?”, “Would I enjoy having dinner with this person?”, “Is this person a good culture fit”?
I look for a blend of different people to bring into my startup, people who might not have domain expertise but have the right a great foundation or attitude with some people who have some domain expertise. Diversity in your team makes it stronger, people from all different backgrounds of life and level of experience.
People generally say,
Hire slow/fire fast
I don’t necessarily agree with this, you really should be forcing yourself to interview at least 10 candidates to give you perspective. Then hire the right person fast. Make calculated and conscious hiring decisions and avoid the “fire fast” part of what people generally say scenario. Firing fast can be demoralizing. Hiring slow, with lots of of interviewing gives a greater perspective into what you are really looking for.
One tip I have is asking a question in several ways, maybe three different ways, to see if a candidate is really sticking to what they initially said when you asked a question the first time. Think about people who can help the company and company plan evolve. Let’s assume that things change in a startup as they do, you need people that can adopt and change the company as the plan changes.
The best skill to look for is to learn how to learn and finding people that know are optimizing learning to learn. Innovation is happening all around us and skills from yesterday are irrelevant to what is needed for tomorrow.
Also, I generally keep a score of how well the candidate is doing, this is the scoring system, below is an example of it for a phone interview and an in-person interview-
- Phone Interview Scale, Attributes [1-10]
- Phone skills
- Knowledge of Healthcare 8, 7 years at another EHR
- Knowledge of Technology 6
- People Skills/EQ 9
- IQ 7
- Why pick drchrono? Stagnate Growth at current job
- Ideal salary range? 45k
- Willing to move? Yes, Baltimore, NY, not CA
- Willing to take any position? Yes
- In person Interview Excellence survey, Attributes [1-10]
- Good relationship skills?
- High energy?
- Positive attitude?
- Curious person?
- Going to school to better themselves?
- Always on time?
- Grow and learn and wanted to take on more responsibility?
- Didn’t wine if they needed to stay late or work on the weekend?
From Warren Buffet
Things to look for, these are not questions but qualities to look for in a person!.
- Integrity (most important)
From Reed Hoffman
In every job, you create an artifact.
- Founders create the vision statement, the org chart, the financing strategy
- Business development creates the signed contracts with other companies
- Engineers create code
- What is the artifact you create as a …?
From Kim Malone Scott
Auther of the book Radical Candor.
- Tell me your story?
- Tell me about a time you made a big mistake?
- What is the hardest feedback you ever got in your life?
Kim is an executive coach to CEO’s and exec’s like the CEO of Evernote Chris O’Neill.
From “Creating Magic” by Lee Cockerell
- What do you do outside of the office?
- When you hear the word successful who is the first person who comes to mind?
- What would you do differently?
- Ask revealing questions.
- Use structured interviews when possible.
- What is the best idea you ever came up with to improve your business?
- How do you plan your day?
- What would you do if you found out if your boss was doing something illegal or unethical?
- What was the reason you left?
- Explain how you plan your day?
Jen Miller of the Gallup Organization
- Profiles of people.
- Find out what really matters to people.
- Hire someone you would gladly report to yourself.
- What really matters most to you?
- Leisure activities?
- What are your passions?
- What do you believe in?
- Demonstrate your expertise.
Questions for Leaders
- Ask yourself how will this leader make my VP of Sales or VP of Marketing better?
- How do you stay on top of the labor costs in your organization?
Ask for references, ask for the person’s last company performance review of them. Also get “off-sheet” references, people who know them but aren’t on the potential person’s reference sheet. Find out about the interview candidates reputation.
Some other great reading on hiring –
- The Role of a COO, How to Hire and Why Transparency Matters
- The art, science, and labor of recruiting
- Team building
- Gene pool engineering for entrepreneurs
I do also recommend using Evernote as a tool to record your notes. I also recommend starting an interview scorecard template.