As the CEO of a rapidly growing company, LearnVest, finding top talent is a critical priority. But it's also a time-consuming task.

As we have brought on over 150 employees, I've gone through hundreds of interviews. You know what they say about first impressions, so I've zeroed in on the set of questions I think can lead to the most insightful responses, and I've learned to trust my gut when listening to a candidate's responses (all while keeping in mind that 92 percent of people report feeling interview anxiety).

Here are my top questions to ask in every interview:

  1. What gets you out of bed in the morning? I want to know what motivates someone. What drives you? Is it a desire to get ahead on a career path, no matter what? Is it a deep-seated goal to make the world a better place? Is it a drive to provide for his or her family? A common thread in employees who have been most effective are people with a fundamental belief in our mission, so that is a quality I am always on the lookout for. 
  2. Do you know your Myers-Briggs? Maybe it is the psychology major in me, but I'm fascinated by people's personality test results. Myers-Briggs is of course a classic, and I'm always curious to know what someone's type is, how it may have changed over time, and how a candidate feels it accurately reflects his or her style. 
  3. What type of job would turn you off? I strive to build a team of solutions-oriented individuals, who are not afraid to get their hands dirty and dive into any project that comes their way. First, I want to know what someone is not willing to do. But I always want to dig a little deeper and figure out what would turn off someone's motivation as an employee. This question can help reveal red flags early on (like a product manager who dreads being in meetings or a salesperson who does not want any hand in account management).
  4. What do you think of our products? I know--it seems an obvious assumption that candidates will have taken the time to explore your product offerings inside and out. This is not only a test of preparedness but also an important opportunity for people to demonstrate their thoughtfulness. I don't just want to hear that someone loves what we do; I want to know what they would recommend to improve our experience (no matter what role on the team they're applying for!).
  5. What do you want from your career over the next five years? The challenge here is not just in attracting top talent, but also in retaining it. That journey is made much easier if you all have clear expectations from the get-go. I want people who want their careers to grow in parallel with LearnVest's growth--people who are going to step up to the plate. I also want to be in a position to help mentor them and give them the necessary feedback to make that happen once they join the team.
Published on: Nov 14, 2014
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