3 Clever Interview Strategies to Help You Snag the Perfect Hire

May 20, 2014 - Joe Matar
Shiny resumes are scary. That carefully curated one-pager freaks me out. Credentials really mean nothing. For better or worse, the resume is still the main currency for getting a job. It’s a quick way to get a baseline overview of past experiences and relevant skills. But don't fool yourself into thinking you can extract anything past that. This list of credentials fails to indicate fit and on-the-job performance, so don’t bet the house on it. While I will look at resumes that are sent my way, I don't require them. Here are three interview strategies I use to gain an in-depth understanding of candidates to ensure they’re a good fit for Kloudless’ values. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Project-based interviews

Regardless of whether candidates are interviewing for a non-technical or technical role, they will be given a mini project that asks them to solve a problem similar to one they would face at Kloudless. The length of the project interview can range from a couple hours (for engineers) to a couple weeks (for some non-technical roles like business development). The idea is to put the candidates in a situation and environment that mirrors our actual day-to-day work experience. What I’m looking for: Problem-solving abilities, skills applicable to the actual position, and how they interface with relevant team members to get the job done. Do you have the competence to deliver on the job and contribute to the team? Oh, and doing the small things matters a lot.

2. A few of your favorite things

I ask candidates to explain to me something they’re passionate about as if I didn't know anything about that subject. Then I follow up with questions. If you’re hired, you’ll need to explain Kloudless to partners or potential users, so I look for clear, concise explanations. What I’m looking for: Communication skills. If you can’t clearly and concisely explain your favorite things in the world to me, how can I expect you to be good at communicating all things Kloudless? Unless Kloudless becomes your favorite thing in the world. In which case, touché. You win.

3. The “trick” question: favorite ice cream

It’s funny how most candidates think “This question’s too easy. Must be a trick,” and start giving an elaborate analysis of the pros and cons of various flavors. This is my favorite question. Seriously. No tricks. All I want is your favorite ice cream flavor. You can also replace this question with other seemingly random, non-work-related questions. At a startup, it’s important to connect on a level beyond business. Your new hires are the people you’ll be spending the majority of your waking moments with. They’re the people who have your back and help you claw against the odds toward startup success. Every candidate we consider at Kloudless goes through at least one, 20-minute interview with each full-time employee. We give candidates we’re prepared to make an offer to the chance to hang out with the whole team over dinner. This is an opportunity for us to get to know the candidate’s personality and also a chance for the candidate to learn more about our unique culture. What I’m looking for: Culture fit. At the end of the day, a startup salary is highly discounted from market rate. The odds of startup failure are greater than 95 percent. You better hire people you like working with and at least enjoy the ride. If you’re in the recruiting seat, the shinier the resume, the more scared you should be. By avoiding credential awe and having a firm grasp on what qualities you value, the right interview questions can reveal whether you’ve struck solid gold or merely been fooled by a cheap veneer. Eliot Sun is the CEO and Co-founder of Kloudless. Find more of his thoughts on Twitter.

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