I interview and talk with a lot of people. Its part of my job and I take it seriously. I always think I can learn something, convince a skeptic, find a great employee, or make another introduction. Over the last year we’ve more than doubled the size of the company, had a handful of dismissals, and churned through a few independent contractors. I insist on meeting and talking with each and every one of them regardless of their role. We have a great culture, a great team and great market potential, it has everything to do with the people.
I ask lots of questions. In addition to all the ones trying to understand your background, skills, experience, education, etc., here are a couple that I ask every time.
1. Do you have a blog and if so, have you installed Lijit?
It’s almost criminal when someone comes in for an interview with the COO and doesn’t take 10 minutes (literally) to understand what we do. Creating a blog is free, installing Lijit is free. Both tasks take less than 10 minutes to complete. What does it say about someone unwilling to take 10 minutes to properly prep for an interview?
2. What do you want to do?
I know why you’re here and we’re talking.. What I want to know what you’re passionate about doing. Amazingly, this question catches lots of people off-guard. Even very early in my career I could articulate what I eventually wanted to do and what I thought were the skills, knowledge, experience, whatever, required to get there. The trick was being self-aware enough to know what I didn’t know. Mentors are critical in getting this one right, so is being realistic with yourself. Not every job needs to be the end-all be-all, but it absolutely can and should be a building block towards something.
3. What are people’s misconceptions of you?
This is almost a trick question. It’s not intended as a trick, but nearly everyone gets stumped by it. I think its a critical competency for any successful executive to have a good degree of self-awareness in how others perceive them and what their own tendencies are. The only way to authentically answer this one is to actually know the answer.
One last point: this one is mainly a pet peeve of mine.. Send a thank you note. It doesn’t have to be long-winded and email is just fine. Just do it. It takes 5 minutes (or less) and shows you have polish.