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How to Conduct an Interview

Must do

Start the interview on time: This first meeting will set the tone for your future working relationship
Make eye contact (if over video): Do not be so buried in note taking that you forget to engage with the person.
Be humble: No matter how well the candidate performs answering the questions they candidate should feel like you are working with them to assess their skill, not showing off your own.
If the candidate gives anything but an optimal answer, encourage them to improve.  Ask them for an analysis of the performance of their answer.  Ask what they can do to make it better.
Encourage candidates to think out loud and give them space to think. Some people need silence before answering a question.  Give them that silence.
If the candidate did not pass the interview, they still might be a contributor to your Open Source Project and they may also be a source of referrals for other candidates.  Be kind and considerate to EVERYONE.
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The first call with a candidate the recruiter will cover topics including

  • Timing/Availability
  • Compensation expectations
  • Location
  • Their interest and ability to work with an early stage company
  • Their interest and ability to work remotely and asynchronously
  • Explanation of how OCV funded companies work (use of a PEO)
  • A high level explanation of your project

The next 30-minute call with the Hiring Manager/Founder topics should include

10 mins: Introduction
  • Introduce yourself
  • What did you do before this venture
  • Explain your goals for expanding the Open Source project to Open Core
  • Explain the role and give examples of the problems you want them to solve, technologies you use and what is expected of them.
15 mins: Relevant Experience
  • Ask the candidate to explain which experience of theirs makes them well suited for the role
  • Make sure they know what they are talking about - Dig into an element of their resume
    • Do they understand why they built what they built
    • Do they understand the technologies used
    • Do they know their component in relation to the larger architecture (ie Do they know what is “next” to them)
5 Mins: Questions and Next steps
  • Allow time for the candidate to ask questions

Follow up Interviews

Depending on the size of your organization there will be follow up interviews with the team or more time with the founder to explore these competencies that you will need in these early hires:
Ownership and Drive: See projects through to completion and take responsibility for shortcomings. They do not need direct management to manage their time and workload.
Collaboration: Actively participates in discussions and leads through example with new ideas and challenging questions while staying focused on the goal.  They respect teammates' varied work styles and approaches.
Intellectual Curiosity: A drive to understand the bigger picture and context in order to be as effective as possible  on the task at hand. A clear picture of the product goals and how they are reflected in the software.
Bias for Action: When you have a choice you choose action over inaction. When curious about a new technology, library or API, learn about it by building something, not just reading.  When you imagine a way to improve the product or process, explore prototyping.  When you see something that needs fixing, fix it.

Strategies

To ensure a thorough and insightful assessment of candidates' competencies, consider the following strategies:
Performance Demonstration
Have candidates showcase their current roles and responsibilities. For instance:
  • Sales/Marketing Roles: Ask them to pitch their current offering. Delve deeper by posing questions that go beyond the surface level, revealing their product understanding and ability to represent it effectively.
  • Engineering/Product Roles: Encourage them to explain what they've built, the methodology behind it, and the trade-offs they considered. Look for candidates who can articulate not just what they did, but why they did it in a certain way.
Inquisitiveness Assessment
Allocate the initial 40% of the interview for candidates to ask questions. This provides insights into their curiosity and preparation:
  • Observe the quality and quantity of their questions. Questions that could be answered through basic research might indicate a lack of effort.
  • Watch out for red flag questions that indicate a transactional mindset, such as inquiries about compensation without showing interest in contributing meaningfully.
Probing for Insight
Encourage candidates to ask questions that reveal their understanding of the organization, market, and challenges:
  • Look for questions that explore the market opportunity, team dynamics, and the organization's most pressing challenges.
  • Positive indicators include candidates who are genuinely curious about how they can make an impact and contribute to the organization's success.
Holistic Assessment
Recognize that joining an organization is a significant commitment. Candidates who invest time in understanding the role and organization are likely to approach their work more seriously:
  • Candidates who do their homework demonstrate dedication to the opportunity and a strong desire to align with the organization's mission.
  • An absence of research could imply a lack of commitment or interest in the role's responsibilities and the organization's goals.
By combining these strategies, you'll create a more comprehensive evaluation process that uncovers candidates' true competencies, motivations, and potential to succeed within your organization. Remember, thorough assessment leads to better hires and a more cohesive team in the long run.

Interviewing candidates for roles outside of your expertise

How do you approach hiring as a founder who is hiring for roles across a wide range of skill sets? You have problems that need to be solved. Ask candidates to solve a problem during a live coding interview.
  1. Leverage open source by forking the project and adding issues for candidates to contribute.
  1. Set up a live coding session as part of the interview. Send the assignment ahead of time because we won’t want to surprise people. Set the expectation with the candidate that no prep work is required.
  1. Don’t use the code created during the interview. It’s not ethical.