In a recent interview, Chieh Huang, co-founder and CEO of Boxed, gave a live audience  unique pointers on screening for the right job candidates during an interview. The only question he said he asks is an interesting one:

Tell me the story of you, but the thing you can't say is anything that's on your résumé. 

The reason the 36-year-old Taiwanese-American entrepreneur, who started the business back in 2013 in his parents' garage, asks the question is to weed out--in his own words--"complete assholes." 

He says that as the CEO of a company now worth over $100 million, he's also in the critical role of "Chief No Asshole Officer." To Huang, hiring super smart people is important. More important, however, is hiring super smart people without huge egos--the assholes he's protecting his company from.

As the last line of defense to safeguard the Boxed culture, Huang spends 30 minutes to get to know the job candidate in the final interview. Then he pops the question and listens intently. It's rare for the CEO of a company growing at breakneck speed to even get involved in the interview process, but Huang demands it and has an ear for eliminating potential assholes.

What is he listening for, exactly? The real you. Since most of us spend more time and waking hours with our co-workers than we do with friends and families, Huang said, "Selfishly, I just don't want to spend it with folks I don't like."

Huang was asked another question at the iConic conference in New York: "How quickly do you actually know when someone's not right for you?" His response? "Within 10 to 15 minutes."

Judging potential jerks and assholes with an intuitive sense really comes down to listening for self-absorption. If Huang hears too many examples of "I did this" and "I did that" and not enough "we" it's a good indication you don't fit the team culture at Boxed.

Arguably one of the hottest young companies in the retail delivery industry (Boxed has been called the digital version of Costco), Boxed is home to over 400 employees and six fulfillment warehouses across the country. And they just announced that Aeon Group, one of the largest retail chains in Japan, has invested $110 million in Boxed, valuing the startup at $600 million, according to a report in The New York Times.

The question is, can the Chief No Asshole Officer keep up his ritual of interviewing every candidate as Boxed continues to grow?

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Published on: Sep 28, 2018