Hiring a CEO? Here's a unique perspective into a home interview from a CEO that experienced it firsthand.
While being interviewed for a key position for a company, I felt like I had run the gauntlet. I had held key positions at other companies and in this case they were recruiting me. Nevertheless I went through the psychological profiles; was interviewed by an industrial psychologist; met several members of the staff and was then told there was one more step. The "home interview." I was told the hiring decision maker, would schedule an interview at my home, ostensibly to meet with me on neutral territory and discuss the position. I was told that it was the final step in the process.
So the evening came and he showed up on time. I welcomed him into our home. My wife had prepared light horsderves as I had been told in advance that he would not be staying for dinner. The horsderves were on the coffee table and we had the children stop in to say hello before going on about their activities. My wife offered him a beverage, coffee, soda or tea. He initially declined and then engaged my wife in a fairly general conversation about nothing in particular. After a few minutes he looked at me and said he would like unsweet tea. An anomaly in the South, I said I would brew some as we had sweet tea already prepared. He apologized for the inconvenience but I insisted.
This well-choreographed step was to remove me from the conversation. He then spent the next several minutes speaking with my wife. I returned with the tea and we sat discussing the weather and other benign subjects. He finished his tea and stood telling my wife it was very nice to meet her and the children, complimented her on our home and then turned to me and asked if I would walk him out. He was in our home no more than 45 minutes.
Outside he extended his hand and complimented me on my family then offered me the job. He removed from his pocket the offer letter which was more than I had anticipated and asked if I had any questions. I said I would contact him the next day with my decision.
I accepted that job and later became the guy that went on those interviews. Candidly, though it was initially a little weird, I found it to be a powerful way to examine the home life, support of the spouse and children and have a glimpse into the individual that is difficult to confirm without this type of interview. The purpose of dismissing me to brew tea was to determine if my wife supported my interest in changing jobs, understood the travel requirements and established an expectation that this company really cared about its people.
While not appropriate for all jobs, it does establish a link between key people, the company and their boss. I have continued to use this technique from time to time and found it to be very useful, if not a little intrusive.
GLEN BLICKENSTAFF is the CEO of The Iron Door company, which makes high-end doors and windows. Glen has a track record of turning around and managing retail, building and financial companies. @glenblickenstaf