Don’t Cut Your Interview Losses
August 22, 2008
We’re doing a lot of interviews these days, and not all of them are perfect matches. Sometimes we get an idea that the fit isn’t very good pretty early on in the interview.
The question came up recently: “Why bother to carry on when we already know we don’t want this person? Why not just cut our losses and get out?”
There’s a couple of reasons to carry on with an interview even after somebody has obviously demonstrated their unsuitability.
First, you might be wrong. It’s important to keep an open mind throughout the interview process, and part of that is checking all my instincts and judgments DURING the interview itself.
Second, you can probably use the practice. Asking questions and listening to answers is a craft, and anyone gets better with practice.
Finally, and most importantly, people have friends. Even if we don’t want to hire someone, we DO want them to walk away with the burning desire to work at FreshBooks — with the belief that this is the greatest place to work anywhere (this is, by the way, entirely true). We want them talking to their friends about this amazing company they interviewed at. Somebody we don’t want to hire might be friends with somebody we DO want to hire, but if they go away thinking we’re arrogant jerks who just kicked them out after twenty minutes, then their friend is unlikely to have a good impression of us.
So part of the job of an interview is to SELL FreshBooks to people — even people we know we don’t want to hire — as a great place to work. That’s part of what gets the word out about how awesome we are, and that word-getting-out is critical to attracting the kind of top-shelf development talent we’re looking for.
I was just talking with Mike about our recruitment strategy and we agreed that straight-up “Here’s who we are” sort of marketing is far and away the best way to go, and our experience so far is that this is what attracts the candidates we like best. It makes sense: we want people who want to work with people like us, and so the best way to find them is by letting as many people as we can know what we’re like. That means eschewing headhunters and recruitment firms and instead getting out and about, saying hi and meeting as many people as possible.
We love our team, we love our product and we love our customers. Not everyone is going to feel the same way as us, and that’s okay. But when you’re hiring you need to make it as easy as possible for people to figure out who you are and what you’re about, so that those who do think you’re the cool train can get on board. That means making sure that everyone who comes in walks away with an accurate impression of what working with you is like.