What’s the best way to interview?

Mark Josephson (CEO at Bitly)
On leading with a compass

I will start with: “Tell me your story. Where are you from? Tell me about your mom and dad. What did they do? Tell me about your brothers and sisters. ” I love to hear how they tell their stories. And have they given any thought to how they tell their stories?

Mark Josephson (CEO at Bitly)
On leading with a compass

I’ll ask them, “What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked?”

Peter Thiel (Co-Founder & Partner at Founders Fund)
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

What important truth do very few people agree with you on? This is a question that sounds easy because it’s straightforward. Actually, it’s very hard to answer.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Don’t ask multiple choice questions | A Founder’s Notebook

Don’t ask multiple choice questions. When people are nervous, they tend to ramble, and their questions tend to trail off into series of possible answers. “What’s the most effective way to find a good programmer? Is it to search on Monster or to go on LinkedIn or to talk to people you know or … uh… uh… yeah, is it to, um…is there another job site that’s good …?” You’re the one with the question; why are you doing all the talking? Terminate the sen… (read more)

DJ Patil (Chief Data Scientist at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)
The best question to ask in a job interview: DJ Patil | A Founder’s Notebook

“What’s one question you expected me to ask?” and “What’s one question you wanted me to ask?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The best question to ask in a job interview: Simon Anderson | A Founder’s Notebook

“What has had the largest impact on how successful you’ve been in your job?”.

Kevin Morrill (Co-Founder & CTO at Mattermark)
refer.ly – This website is for sale! – affiliate marketing Resources and Information.

I want you to explain something to me. Pick any topic you want: a hobby you have, a book you’ve read, a project you worked on–anything. You’ll have just 5 minutes to explain it.

Lou Adler (CEO and founder of The Adler Group)
The Only Interview Question That Matters | Inc.com

What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date? “Walk me through the plan, how you managed it, and its measured success”, “How long did it take?”, “What were the actual results?”, “What aspects did you love, and what didn’t you enjoy?”.

Lou Adler (CEO and founder of The Adler Group)
How to Prevent Half of All Hiring Mistakes | Inc.com

When interviewers meet candidates they like, they maximize the positives and ignore the negatives. When they meet someone they don’t like, they reverse the process. Be more cynical with people you like. Treat people you don’t like as consultants

Adi Tatarko (CEO of Houzz)
The best questions to ask in a job interview: Adi Tatarko | A Founder’s Notebook

I will ask you, “What will make you thrive?” But I will also ask, “What will make you unhappy?

Mark Josephson (CEO at Bitly)
On leading with a compass

Ask “what were the three times in your career when you were the happiest, the most successful and just the most fulfilled, and what were you doing?”

Spencer Rascoff (CEO at Zillow)
The best questions to ask in a job interview: Spencer Rascoff | A Founder’s Notebook

What are you most proud of so far in your career? And if you ran your current company, what are some things you would change?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to ask great questions | A Founder’s Notebook

I’ve found that the best questions are open ended enough that you’re not anchoring the person answering the question, but specific enough that the question is easy to answer. For example, I have a friend who I see every weekend. Instead of asking “how are you?”, which is too wide for most people, and therefore elicits a bland or evasive response, he asks “How was your week?”.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to run a job interview | A Founder’s Notebook

Don’t ask the candidates about their capabilities, get them to demonstrate them.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Best Hiring Practices – AVC

Many companies like a 15 minute phone call (the phone screen) as the first filter into the interview process. A skype video call is also a good way to do this. At USV we have experimented with a video application (using a service called Take The Interview), with good results.

Ryan Howard (Founder @ Practice Fusion)
Transcript: Protecting yourself as the founder; Ryan Howard | VatorNews

When you meet an executive, if you really want to hire them, you should have them for one to two full days and don’t have them show you their current work. Have them spend a day learning the problem space, have them take some time to themselves and then come back and work with the team for a day on how they’d can fix it. At the end of that meeting, I guarantee you that the entire team would be yes or no. You have worked with them, you have de-ris… (read more)

What’s the best way to fire an employee?

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
If you fired a senior executive, identify from this list what went wrong | A Founder’s Notebook

[When you fire someone…] 1. You did a poor job of defining the position in the first place. CEOs often hire based on an abstract notion of what they think and feel the executive should be like. This error often leads to the executive not bringing the key, necessary qualities to the table. 2. You hired for lack of weakness rather than for strengths. You hire an executive with no sharp weaknesses, but who is mediocre where you need her to be grea… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Keeping someone in a job not suited to them is worse than firing them | A Founder’s Notebook

We’ve fired many talented people from Seeking Alpha because “it’s not going to work”, and many of them have gone on to be outstandingly successful in other companies. Far from viewing that as a failure, I view it as a huge success — we pushed them to find the job that really worked for them.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Keeping someone in a job not suited to them is worse than firing them | A Founder’s Notebook

Your job as a manager is to build a successful company. You don’t fire people because there’s something wrong with them — a one-sided consideration. You fire them because it’s not working, and there’s no prospect that it’s going to work — which is bad for the company and bad for the employee.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup advice, briefly – Sam Altman

Fire people quickly when you make hiring mistakes. Don’t work with people you don’t have a good feeling about. This goes for employees (and cofounders), partners, investors, etc.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Five bad excuses to avoid firing poor performers, and why you should “expose the pain” | A Founder’s Notebook

First, at the process level, slow firing of under-performers means it takes longer to build a great team. Leaving a position filled, even with an under-performer, removes the pressure to hire the right person. If you don’t expose the pain, you’ll forget (or ignore) that it’s there.

Hunter Walk (Founder & Partner at Homebrew)
Fire Faster: Five Excuses Startup CEOs Give For Not Getting Rid of Low Performers | Hunter Walk

Unless someone has behaved unethically or otherwise misrepresented their skills, they should be given feedback regarding their underperformance plus the opportunity to articulate to you that they understand and can correct quickly.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Asking An Employee To Leave The Company – AVC

1) Be quick – once you’ve made a decision to let someone go, move quickly to do it. 2) Be generous – Unless the employee has acted in extreme bad faith or done something terribly wrong, I like to be generous on the way out. 3) Be clear – Do not beat around the bush. Start the conversation with the hard stuff. 4) Get advice – There are some situations where the company has some potential legal exposure in these situations. 5) Communicate – Once t… (read more)

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Fire people that are difficult, unproductive, unreliable, have no product sense, or aren’t pragmatic. Do it quickly.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Fire quickly. There’s a reason this advice has become cliche.

Spencer Rascoff (CEO at Zillow)
Don’t be scared to hire someone better than you

The mistake I have most commonly made, especially earlier in my career, was not acting quickly enough when I knew in my gut that somebody probably wasn’t the best person for a role