Random Pieces of Mind

8 questions for startups to ask candidates in 1st round interview

You should come out of the first round interview with a sense of whether you want this person on the team or not, regardless everything on his resume and everything about the open position.

First of all, this is totally open to discussion as I am in no way an expert in interviewing. But I found the workflow very natural to me and very helpful so I like to share and see how people think.
For the first round interview, especially for current students, we startups will need afriendly/aggressive/persuasive style of interviewing.
Also we need to have an expectation on the candi base on his resume before we open the door when the candi knocks. (I love the word candi for candidates. A good candidate should be like a candy, sweet, life-saving, and you just can’t have enough)

My typical question flow:

1.Please introduce yourself.

The best way to open an interview; the way I usually do this is: Ask the person to introduce himself or herself and speak for a couple of minutes about what they’re interested in and most excited about.
This way we can set the stage for the conversation and make sure we’re both comfortable with each other.
Then mark down their emotional tendency towards their most recent position and job, so we have a better idea of whether he/she likes the job(since we tend to make decision base on the most recent job experience)and whether we should be offering them something similar.
Ask the candi to share some adjectives that describe himself/herself.
Then follow up and ask for examples — so if someone says, “funny,” follow up will be “What are some examples of when you were funny.” (This is a pretty bad example but you get the idea.)
Also this gives us a good memory point for this candidate so that we can quickly and easily recall him/her. “Oh I remember Geoff, he is the funny guy who…”

2.Questions on past projects.

“What was the background of the project you were working on?”
“What tasks were you given?”
“What actions did you take?”
“What results did you get?”
“What impact did you have on the team?”
“What impact did you make on the project?”
These questions will give us the sense on whether this person is really contributing in the project or simply participating in the project or even free-riding.

3.Know what concerns a candidate might have, or what might convince them not to accept the job.

“What will make you most interested in a job?”
“What do you want to achieve in your next position?”
These questions will let you have an idea of use different word here for the candi to take a job. (Although I believe it is almost the same for every person at Bay area to say “I want to work on something interesting.”)

4.Technical questions.

Depend on the tech background of this person.
The catch for these questions is that the whole team should sit down and discuss what’s a good tech question. Also what’s a good answer and why you should use this particular one, as we should never ask a tech question that hasn’t been asked by the team to anyone before.

5.What do you know about us.

This is almost like a best question for startup that is not in stealth mode. If the candi didn’t even took the time to Google our company, that means the candi came in to our office simply because he needs a job and he is extremely lazy. (Which is a big NO NO at our stage)
If the candi did a good job. Then you can start the ***semi-pitch*** this person by elaborating the answer to this question.
For example:
Xiao: “What do you know about us?”
Candi: “Well I realized that you guys have a killer photo editor and I saw it. It is pretty cool.”
Xiao: “Yes! We have the only online editor that support RAW editing in the browser…Blah blah <insert humble brag> blah blah ”

6.What is the unique value that you can bring to us.

This is a chance for them to pitch themselves.
By the time now the candi should be interested, (since the interview is a mutual selection process), so he/she will try to sell his/her experience in order to fit in our position, more importantly if he/she is smart, this person will try to fit in the company.
Therefore pay close attention to this question, as you are going to dig deep into the correlation between the candi and your position.

7.Let me tell you more about this position.

Now you just go in and describe the position. Since we are in fact an interesting company, we will simply say what the work need to be done by this employee and what we expect from them.

8.Do you have any questions for me?

Turn the table and pitch this amazing candidate again.
Also you want to record their question to see how deep they go and how well they understand the question before they ask it. It is very important for people to ask the additional question (because they care), and very important for you to observe.
Hope that these helps, and I would also love to learn and improve.
Peace out.

Xiao Liang is a founder of Polarr, a proud Startx F14 alumni and portfolio company of Pejman Mar Ventures and Zhenfund.
我对于founder面试候选人的方式有异议,于是我们决定要come up with 一个系统性的可执行的面试策略。于是有了这篇指导性文章。

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