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Who Interview

The power of patterns for choosing who.
⏬ Chaos for hiring without the Who Interview process - aka "instinct". ⏬
In this interview we will go through the candidates work history going back as far as 15 years. If we are hiring right out of school, we will in turn discuss their journey through school (groups, clubs, projects). The goal is to gather immense amount of decision data points.
Start with the beginning of the candidate's career and work towards present day, the order is very important. Ask this set of questions about each job the candidate has had.
The Who interview typically will last three hours. It may last one hour with entry level positions and up to five hours with CEO's of multi billion-dollar companies.
We recommend you conduct the Who interview with a colleague- perhaps someone from HR. This tandem approach makes it easier to run the interview. One person can ask the questions while the other takes notes. Either way, two heads are always better than one.

Remember, every hour you spend in the Who Interview, you'll save hundreds of hours not dealing with C Players. The return is staggeringly high.

Kick off the interview by setting expectations. Here's a simple script:
Thank you for taking the time to visit us today. As we have already discussed, we are going to do a chronological interview to walk through each job you have held. For each job I am going to ask you five core questions: (say five questions below). At the end of the interview we will discuss your career goals and aspirations, and you will have a chance to ask me questions. Eighty percent of the process is in this room, but if we mutually decide to continue, we will conduct reference calls to complete the process.Finally, while this sounds like a lengthy interview, it will go remarkably fast. I want to make sure you have the opportunity to share your full story, so it is my job to guide the pace of the discussion. Sometimes, we'll go into more depth in a period of your career. Other times, I will ask that we move on to the next topic. I'll try to make sure we leave plenty of time to cover your most recent, and frankly, most relevant jobs. Do you have any questions about the process?

Who Interview questions for each previous job

What were you hired to do?
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
What were some low points during that job?
Who were the people you worked with? Specifically.
What was your boss's name and how do you spell that? What was it like working with him/her? What will he/she tell me were your biggest strengths and areas for improvement?
How would you rate the team you inherited on an A, B, C scale? What changes did you make? Did you hire anybody? Fire anybody? How would you rate the team when you left it on A, B, C scale?
Why did you leave that job?

1. What were you hired to do?

This question is a clear window into the candidates' goals and targets for a specific job. You are trying to discover what their scorecard might have been if they had one. Coach them by asking how they thought their success was measured in the role. What were their mission and key outcomes? What competencies might have mattered? Look for specifics not generalities.

2. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Should generate wonderful discussions about the peaks of a person's career. In our experience, this is where candidates naturally focus on what really mattered to them at that time in their career rather than regurgitating their resume.
Good Answer
Ideally, candidates will tell you about accomplishments that match the job outcomes they just described to you. Even better, they match the scorecard we are trying to fill. A Players tend to talk about outcomes linked to expectations.
Bad Answer
Be wary when a candidate's accomplishments seem to lack any correlation to the expectations of the job. Be sure to listen for that clue. B and C players talk generally about events, people they met, or aspects of the job they liked without ever getting results.

3. What were some low points during that job?

People can be hesitant to share their lows at first, opting instead to say something like, "I didn't have any lows. Those were good years! Yup, those were good years, I tell you!" The disclaimers are understandable, but there isn't a person alive who can seriously make this claim. Everybody, and we mean everybody, has work lows. Our recommendation is to re-frame the question over and over until the candidate gets the message.
What went really wrong? What was your biggest mistake? What would you have done differently? What part of the job did you not like? In what ways were your peers stronger than you?
Don't let the candidate off the hook. Keep pushing until the candidate shares the lows.

4. Who were the people you worked with?

Builds on fourth question of the screening interview.
Be sure to follow the order of the following questions:
What was your boss's name? Then ask them to spell it no matter how common the name.
What did you think about working with your boss?
What will you boss say are your biggest strengths and areas of improvement. Be sure to say will, not would.
Positive answer- They will offer high praise for their bosses and how they received mentoring and coaching from them over the years.
Neutral answer- Sound somewhat more reserved without being particularly positive of negative.
Negative answer- They will tell you their boss was useless, the next was a jerk, and the third a complete moron. Obviously, if they give this last answer, screen them out. What colorful name will you earn next?

5. Why did you leave that job?

The final question of this vital Who Interview can be one of the most insight-producing questions you ask.
Was the candidate for our position promoted, recruited, or fired from each job along their career progression?
Were they taking the next step in their career or running from something?
How did they feel about it?
How did their boss react to the news?
A Players perform well, and bosses express disappointment when they quit. B and C players perform less well and are nudged out of their jobs or forcefully pushed out by their bosses. Don't accept vague answers like, "My boss and I didn't connect." Get curious and dig deeper to understand why.
will give you more insight to this last, critical answer.

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