Your #1 stick when screening candidates. And yes, you absolutely need it

So I ran into this question half an hour back, when I was looking for a question to answer on Quora.

What would you do?

What is the right thing to do here?

Is he right / is he wrong?

The thing that I actually found more interesting was this response to the question above. This was what had popped up in my feed.

Now. There are two things here:

  1. I don’t 100% agree with the method as well as the logic behind the behavior of the person asking this question. But if I had to err on a side, I would probably suggest him continuing with his approach.
  2. I do to some extent agree with the viewpoint of the person who wrote this answer, or at least a part of his viewpoint.
Why on earth are you waiting until they get to the interview to shut them down and kick them out?

But I don’t share his sentiments anywhere else in the answer — especially not the part where he thinks its inane or draconian.

Is the expectation from a candidate to spend some time trying out the product he/she is showing an inclination to get associated with really that absurd? You don’t just want employees, especially in nascent stage businesses. You want passionate co-creators. People who believe in the vision of the company, are excited about the problem you are trying to solve, and have the gumption to stop at nothing before the job is done.

Do you know what will be the first few things you will notice about such people?

  • They won’t just go through your product, but also research about the space.
  • They will have questions, doubts, suggestions about your past endeavours.
  • They will ask you about a couple of challenges that they think your business will encounter sooner or later.

These are the guys you want on your team.

I am not asking you to hire people who think on the same wavelength and frequency as you do. I am not asking you to hire people who will match up to your thought process. I would, actually, strongly suggest against those two things. But as far as sharing a burning passion and belief in grand vision of the business or space is concerned, yeah that just needs to be there. Unless you have that imbibed into every single member of your team, it would always be performing at sub-par levels. It just won’t be at its best. And people who have that passion and vision — they do give a shit. And they don’t do it ‘just’ for the money. They don’t go through the motions. So no, they won’t come to an interview for an interview. They will come to be a part of something they can see themselves associating with. A cause to believe in.

So yeah, the expectation that they should at least know what the fucking product is about is quite genuine. I am not saying they should have tried out the services. Hell, I am fine if they haven’t even downloaded the app (if you have one). But as long as they can show me that they have put in the time and effort to understand my business to whatever limited extent they could, they have crossed the first threshold. If you can’t do that, sorry buddy but we will need to cut it short.

PS: Oh, and I did mention that I do not 100% agree with the person asking the question as well. The reason? Well, there could be any number of reasonable and perfectly understandable arguments why a person could not try out your product. But if they are completely clueless about everything — (1) Your product, (2) Your business, (3) The space you are in to, (4) Your competition. If they are striking out on everything then that means they couldn’t be bothered to put in some time on research. Remove yourself from the table and put any other company in your place and then ask yourself this — Would his responses, questions, approach, preparedness be any different for this interview than it was for ours? If the answer is NO, give him a solid pass!

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