The Final Interview

Brad Jefferson
Published in
5 min readSep 10, 2019

Before you’re hired at Animoto, you talk to our People Team. Then you talk to the hiring manager. If those conversations go well you come into the office and you talk to them again, along with other members of the team you’d be joining. If all of those conversations go well, too, then you talk to me.

Why I interview candidates

Why do I, the CEO, interview all potential new hires? There are two main reasons that I’ll dive into in this post, but the simple answer is that it’s about company culture. If you’ve made it to that point in the interview process, I know you’re good at what you do. I’ve read your resume, I’ve jotted down a few notes.

Your experience and skills are, of course, crucial to success here, but one of my responsibilities is making sure that every new person who joins the company can thrive in the environment we’ve built.

We want people who are qualified not just to participate in what we have here, but to build upon it and help propel us forward. Without further ado, here’s the “why” behind my interviews.

Our culture is set by our employees

Company culture can be a tricky thing to nail down. Between our executive team, longtime employees, new hires, interns, and everyone in between, there are a ton of moving pieces, each with a role to play. That said, culture can’t stem from just any one person.

Culture isn’t just about how you interact with your coworkers, or breaking out the ping pong table after work, or happy hours or trivia nights or any single activity. Culture is the environment that you walk into every day. It’s how you understand what’s expected of you. It’s how you think about how to deliver on that expectation. We’re working to create an environment where people can do the best work of their lives, and culture can make the whole greater than the sum of its (very talented) parts.

Ultimately, we’re looking for people who are a ‘values fit’ with our team. Here are Animoto’s company values that we hold dear:

  • Humbletude: The balance of the humility needed to hear and respect other people’s ideas and the confidence necessary to advocate for your own
  • Betterfication: A hunger for solutions, not problems
  • Oomphosity: A passion for life, with interests both inside and outside of work, and the ability to bring that passion to work everyday

When I conduct my interview, I want to find out more about what motivates you, both professionally and personally. Are you naturally curious? What are the things that you can’t stop talking about? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Are you more of a consumer, or a creator? And, ultimately, do you embody the values that we hold dear as a company?

Accountability and openness

It’s not lost on me that, at first glance, an interview with the CEO sounds a little intimidating. But truly, that’s not the point. When you join a new company, there are a million things to get adjusted to. New coworkers, new manager, new workflows, a new place you go to work every day.

With our conversation, we cross one adjustment off that list. If you work here, we’re going to be working together. From day one, I’m a point of contact for you, and someone you should feel confident coming to.

Our conversation should establish a line of communication that bridges the gap between your interview process and your time at Animoto, which I do my best to continue nurturing in a few different ways.

  • First, I hold welcome breakfasts outside the office with all new hires shortly after they start with us.
  • Second, I host a monthly Q&A session (formerly Ask Brad Anything, now Bradical Candor) where all Animoto employees can submit questions anonymously for me to answer. There are always silly questions; there are always serious questions, but every single one is a chance for the team to make their feelings known, and for me to get better as a CEO. I actually have a whole post about these Q&As so if you’re curious about the details behind why we do it (and how to conduct them if you’re in a position to do so) you can check that out here.
  • Third, I do my best to make myself available whenever possible. I’m based in San Francisco, but make frequent trips into New York to work out of our main office. While I’m there, I host lunches in our conference rooms where all are welcome to come chat with me, and in general I try to keep time on my calendar for 1:1 conversations with anyone who needs the time.

It’s incredibly important to me that everyone at Animoto feels comfortable coming to me with any questions, suggestions, or concerns that they may have. We have a ton of incredibly smart, talented people at Animoto, and I don’t believe that walling myself off from their points of view is the best way to take advantage of all they have to offer.

All of this is to say that while part of the goal of my final interview is to establish whether candidates will make strong cultural additions to our team, it is just as much about setting the tone around openness and accountability that we maintain at Animoto. I’m getting to know you during our talk, but I expect you to be just as curious about me, and that first conversation establishes a connection that I want you to take full advantage of here.

Final Thoughts

As the CEO of Animoto, the buck stops with me. I like having a connection with every single person we hire at Animoto and I like that I can respond to any final questions that our candidates may have. I like to talk about our company vision, mission, and our future, to make sure candidates understand who Animoto is today and where we’re going. I want to make sure that’s motivating to people who join Animoto. Any edge that I can bring with a little extra insight to excite potential team members is a fully worthwhile endeavor.

We go after the top talent in our space. Since there will always be a competitive market for the individuals we seek to hire at Animoto, every step of the recruiting and interview process is a chance to set Animoto apart. We think about all aspects of the recruiting and interviewing journey at Animoto and our final CEO interview is an easy step that frequently sets Animoto apart from other companies and offers.

To be honest, I sometimes find myself wondering why more CEOs don’t conduct candidate interviews. When it comes down to it, at a company of our size, I’m called upon only a handful of times a month, and it is a very good use of my time. It’s a small investment in building relationships with each and every Animoto employee from day one, and it’s one that I’m thrilled to make. Further, if you’re interviewing with Animoto and receive an offer, you should have the confidence that everyone at Animoto believes you’ll be successful here, from your future peers, to your future manager, and to me, the CEO.

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Brad Jefferson
Writer for

CEO & Co-founder of Animoto. Raised in Seattle, live in Oakland and work in San Francisco and New York City. Married 14 yrs and proud father of two.