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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Quick Way to Stand Out In an Interview

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 Posted by Chris Tung , , No comments

This week, I had a great talk with a former boss who is now a founder of her own startup. They've recently closed a round of funding with investors including Bain Capital, and she's been spending the majority of this year building out her team to scale her business.

During our chat, I asked her how she's gone about recruiting the right people to join her small company. After all, the smaller the company, the stronger the applicant needs to be because everyone will have to wear multiple hats. In addition to being incredibly skilled, these candidates will also need to have the right personality to fit in to the culture she's trying to create. She ended up telling me that she knows one test that she uses to quickly filter out bad matches:

She said that before the candidate enters the interviewing room, she places a magazine on the ground. Once the candidate comes in, she studies their reaction. Do they:
  • Ignore the magazine and say nothing
  • Comment on the magazine but do nothing
  • Pick up the magazine
If someone picks up the magazine, it signals a couple good things: they're observant and most importantly, they'll get stuff done without being told. If they ignore it or comment but choose not to pick up the magazine, it lets her know that the candidate may not possess the can-do attitude she needs in all of her team members. Ultimately, this is only a small part of the interview, and someone will still need to possess all of the right skills to make them qualified for the job. However, this quick test and someone's immediate reaction to this seemingly irrelevant challenge does provide a level of insight that one might not get from a series of questions and prepared answers during an interview.

The important takeaway is that it's the things that we do that best demonstrates whether we are the right people for a job, and in this world, there are many thinkers and talkers but not nearly as many doers. So, next time you see something out of place in an interview, some trash on the ground, or someone struggling to open the door, don't think or talk about doing something. Go DO IT. Help make someone's life a bit easier, and who knows, maybe it'll lead to a job at an awesome startup.

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