First Round Interview? No, First Round Impressions

Preface: This post is written less as my opinion and more as a culmination of all the feedback (use cases) some four thousand high-end technology professionals have given me over the past three plus years.

We are in one of the tightest, if not the tightest candidate markets since, well…forever. More open positions than qualified candidates and new companies sprouting up every day (like the dot com). That said, the technical community has maintained a very high bar for talent and experience to make the cut when interviewing (not so much like the dot com). Modern day job descriptions look like a good action story super hero or better yet, Mark Zuckerberg. This and the fact that many still think we are in a soft market due to lasting effects of a recession, lead to ineffective first round interviews often, so I hear.

The first round interview is a first impression of your organization, and a lasting one. With the supply-and-demand curve favoring them, candidates are more likely to just move on from a bad experience. So, is it better to cover technical strengths? Or weaknesses? Code test?

If you use this simple model while conducting first round interviews you’ll find the ability to make a good assessment while also leaving a great impression on each candidate you interview whether or not you decide to move forward with them in the process.

  1. Set the agenda (Duration of the call and topics covered)
  2. Start by asking about them (Above and beyond your resume, tell me your story)
  3. Ask more questions about them (What technologies were you using, what are you building, team size, % breakdown of role)
  4. Tell your story (Before this, when I got here, why I joined, since I joined, why I’m staying)
  5. Tell the story of the company (Who, What, When/where we started, where we came from, where we are, where we are going)
  6. Dive into the product/application (Core business, user base, market, competitors)
  7. Detail the team break down (Overall employees, tech numbers, tech stack, seniority, tenure)
  8. Light overview of the role as it pertains to the current business need (Describe business need in a way to objective the must have skills)
  9. Ask an open ended question to incite communication and articulation from the candidate (Personalized question about their story)
  10. Wrap up the call and set a reference point regarding next steps (Set up a second round at the end of a first round or check-in call if unsure)
  11. Follow through with next step (Let the NOs go)

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Tags: building, hiring, interviewing, open, process, recruiting, source, startup, team

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