Startup hack: Start Interview Days with a Group Interview

Co-authored by Neill Occhiogrosso & Martina Lauchengco

Matt Glotzbach, CEO at Quizlet, discusses interview hack at Costanoa CEO Summit.

January is a time when a lot of people are looking for jobs and hiring into new annual plans. Even we recently announced we are expanding our team, so it was a good reminder of some of the recruiting best practices we’ve learned from our ecosystem.

One of our favorite hacks builds on one from Matt Glotzbach, CEO at Quizlet, who shared the original idea at our last CEO Summit: Any time you have a candidate interviewing with several people in a single day, start the day with the candidate presenting themselves to the whole “interview panel” so everyone gets the same key “resume-review” type learning.

Ask three simple questions:

  1. What are you proudest of on your resume?
  2. Which thing would you redo if you could?
  3. Which accomplishment was the hardest fought/toughest?

The reason to ask questions like this is it moves the resume review from “and then I went here, and then I did that” into something which gives you insight into how a candidate sees themselves, their accomplishments, their work, and even their failures (and if they can even own failure). It gives everyone much richer insights. It’s also a time to ask the candidate any questions that everyone may wonder like “why were you only at your last job for 16 months?” or “have you managed people” if it isn’t obvious on the resume.

This hack also offers a chance to see the candidate communicate in a one-to-many setting. Most jobs at startups will require 1:N communication at some point, and this is a chance to directly observe the candidate’s facility for such communication. Your team should assess:

  1. How comfortable is the candidate when asked questions?
  2. Does the candidate appear authentic in the discussion of their accomplishments or more practiced and polished? The latter isn’t necessarily bad, but if you can’t ever get past the person’s “interview mode” then it is tough to feel like you’re really getting to know the candidate.

Coordinating all of the interviewers to be in the office on the same day and free at the beginning of the day can be a logistical burden, but having the upfront presentation can lead to a faster decision-making process. This type of information is good for everyone to hear, and it lets individual interviewers focus on their functional domains or more specific questions.

This simple and tactical idea may seem small but can make a real difference to a business. If you’re really excited about a candidate and want to fast track an offer, a bonus hack (courtesy of Mike Cassidy via Gia Scinto), is to conduct references during the interview day. You can be ready to make an offer before the end of the day.

We hope this is helpful, and we’ll look for more great hacks to share in the future.