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Interviewing Talent for Startups

By EdApp
5 Lessons
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About this course

Everything you need to know about profiling the right talent, and developing strategies for bias-free interviews.

Interviewing Talent for Startups Lessons

Click through the microlessons below to preview this course. Each lesson is designed to deliver engaging and effective learning to your team in only minutes.

  1. Profiling Talent for a Startup
  2. Types of Interviews
  3. Types of Interview Questions
  4. Mitigating Bias with Structured Interviews
  5. The Parts of an Interview

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Interviewing Talent for Startups course excerpts

Profiling Talent for a Startup

Take a look at niche considerations and the "ideal traits" of a startup applicant.

Interviewing Talent for Startups Course - Lesson Excerpt

"Tell me more about a time you did a lot with very little." RESOURCEFULNESS Most startups have limited resources. A great startup employee embraces the challenge of doing big things with whatever is available.

“Tell me about a time you made a decision without having much data.” ADAPTABILITY Things evolve quicker in a startup setting than in more mature companies. Great startup employees can pivot just as quickly to make these changes work for them. They spend SOME time planning and MOST of their time doing.

“Tell me what you do that makes the biggest impact on the organization in your current job.” MOTIVATIONS In a startup, you need to be motivated by innovation and value. Ideal teammates can envision and lead projects that fulfil company targets and needs.

“Tell me about a time you feel a boss treated you unfairly.” ACCOUNTABILITY Compatible talent will define what's "fair" in the same way that your startup does. This helps ensure that all parties can own up to what they're responsible for. Accountability bolsters trust and respect.

“Tell me about a time you went the extra mile for a customer.” CUSTOMER FOCUS Great candidates often have plenty of “above and beyond” stories. The startup spirit involves being invested in doing right by their customers.

A "dream applicant" will act, think, and perform differently depending on which startup you ask. Before profiling talent, decide on your own company's fundamental values and non-negotiables. Whoever you hire, make sure that they can improve on those values, and that the startup spirit is strong in them.

Types of Interviews

Learn different interview strategies and when it's best to apply each technique.

Interviewing Talent for Startups Course - Lesson Excerpt

Hiring the right people is instrumental to the success of a company. This is ultimately why recruitment interviews and talent profiles are so important.

Depending on where you are in the hiring process, and the kind of applicants you're profiling, some interview strategies will be more effective than others.

As an interviewer, it's your job to know exactly what type of interview conduct and when. In this lesson, you'll review common interview strategies, and when it's best to use them.

SCREENING The initial Screening is an opportunity for both recruiter and applicant to check if a job opening could be a good fit. The goal here is to: **Give the talent a clear explanation of the job they're applying for, ** Find out what the talent is seeking, and **Answer any initial questions that the talent might have. ** Expect anything from "where's would I get lunch?" to "what's the work schedule like?" or "can we talk about compensation?" If your initial expectations match the applicant's, then you're probably ready to move on to the next round of interviews.

You're screening Joey, who is applying to be a QA engineer. Which task would be least important in the interview? Select the correct answer.

FUNCTIONAL INTERVIEWS A Functional Interview evaluates whether a screened applicant has the functional skills needed for a particular job. It aims to answer the following questions:

Does the applicant have previous experience in a similar role?

Have they worked with similar tools?

If they don't, do they show potential?

It's often useful to pair a Functional Interview with a practical test.

For example, someone vying for a copywriting job could be asked to draft a simple print ad, so that they can talk you through their process during the interview.

Insatiable curiosity

Continuous improvement

The ability to think on their feet

A thirst to achieve

Not all interviews are created equal. Using the right strategy for the right occasion increases your chances of finding a great team member and ensuring company growth. Use Screenings as initial compatibility tests, Functional Interviews or Role Play to evaluate skill, and the HiPo strategy to profile high-potential talent. Adopt a Culture Add mindset to proactively diversify your team.

Types of Interview Questions

Learn how to use common Q&A strategies to profile applicants.

Interviewing Talent for Startups Course - Lesson Excerpt

According to famous fictionist, Ursula K. Le Guin, "there are no right answers to the wrong questions."

This is especially true in the context of conducting an effective job interview.

After deciding on the profile you're looking for, and the interview strategy you want to use, how can you leverage the Q&A process in the quest for your team's next MVP?


Depending on your interview focus, you can use different questioning strategies to profile an applicant: FACT-BASED QUESTIONS clarify the details of an applicant's work history. BEHAVIOURAL QUESTIONS recall how they handled previous challenges. SITUATIONAL QUESTIONS ask how they would handle hypothetical scenarios. PROBING QUESTIONS are used to follow up on points that need elaboration. STRESS QUESTIONS are deliberately abrasive, and are used to test quick thinking. FORBIDDEN QUESTIONS introduce biases like gender and race into an interview, and should be avoided. ASK WISELY!

Mitigating Bias with Structured Interviews

Identify cognitive and cultural biases, and learn how to set rubrics to ensure a bias-free interview.

Interviewing Talent for Startups Course - Lesson Excerpt

Psychology Today defines bias as "a tendency, inclination, or prejudice toward or against something or someone."

Biases come in hundreds of forms, and nobody is immune to developing few.

But while it's human to perceive things and make choices based on your background, bias can also lead to unfair judgement.

This is an important recruitment consideration. As an interviewer, you always run the risk of favouring or disfavouring certain applicants based on your own unconscious, and often gendered biases.

Performance/Attribution Bias Performance bias is the assumption that some people naturally perform better than others. Attribution bias is the tendency to give or withhold credit based on how skilled we think someone is. Both biases are often gendered. For example: studies show that men are more likely to be hired for potential and recognized for their achievements. On the other hand, women are often underestimated in the workplace, and are criticized harder for their mistakes.

Success/Likeability Trade-off The success/likeability trade-off is also a gendered bias. While it's perceived as natural for men to be assertive and successful, women are disliked for showing the same traits. For example: women with strong leadership styles are labelled "bossy" or "aggressive," but strong male leaders are considered the norm.

Recency/Anchoring Bias Bias also occurs when you fixate on the results of a recent event (recency), or a completely unrelated event (anchoring) to judge an applicant's competence. For example: if you're interviewing a copywriter with 5 years' worth of viral campaigns, it would be unfair to give them a low rating just because their latest project flopped.

Group Think Group think is echoing popular opinions instead of forming your own, objective analysis. For example: if your background check returns fishy results for an applicant, it's still a good idea to raise a red flag even if they get a unanimously positive feedback from a panel interview.

Confirmation Bias Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new information in a way that conforms to your own personal value systems. For example: you could overlook the high potential of a less experienced applicant just because of the preconceived notion that younger employees don't perform well.

Halo/Pitchfork Effect The halo/pitchfork effect is the result of relying on a single negative or positive attribute to form an overall impression. For example: even if an applicant shows incredible charm during an interview, you shouldn't let that charm camouflage a severe lack of work experience.

Gender expression Gender identity Sexual orientation

Race National origin Religious beliefs Political opinion

Age Medical condition Pregnancy status Disability

Marriage status Family status

To make sure that cognitive and cultural biases don't unjustly affect your hiring process, it helps to set interview limits. Here are some limitations to consider:

What type of interview am I conducting?

What job opening is the interview for and what are the requirements?

What questions am I going to ask, and who can help me write an objective script?

What attributes will I look for and rate in the interview?

What rubric or grading system will I follow?

Answering these questions can help you craft a STRUCTURED INTERVIEW and lessen the chances of bias. See the next slide for more on structured interviews.

What details should you standardize to minimize bias in interviews? Select all that apply.

The Parts of an Interview

Learn best practices to use before, during, and after an interview.

Interviewing Talent for Startups Course - Lesson Excerpt

As an interviewer, your ability to navigate and drive a discussion can make or break an applicant's performance, and eventually, your hiring decision.

DURING THE INTERVIEW You can follow this sequence of events:

STEP 1: Small Talk! 2-3 minutes Help your candidate feel comfortable by incorporating a bit of small talk. Something more creative than "how's the weather?" will work best!

STEP 2: Intro 3-5 minutes Before digging into your questions, don't forget to introduce yourself and your company, state the purpose of the interview, and set a clear agenda.

STEP 3: Q&A 30-40 minutes This is the meat of the interview. Experts suggest starting with factual questions, but spending most of the interview on situational, or behavioural asks. Make sure that you guide the candidate through the process, stay objective, and take notes.

STEP 4: Wrap-up 5-10 minutes Allot plenty of time to honestly answer the applicant's questions. Give the candidate a sense of the role and team and try to leave the candidate feeling positive. You can even highlight why you joined, and why you like working here. Remember: We want them to want us too.

STEP 5: Follow-up 3-5 minutes Explain what the applicant should expect after this. Will you email them about the next round of interviews or tests? Paint a clear picture.

WHEN WRITING YOUR EVALUATION Don’t discuss your interview before writing your feedback. Focus on assessing the attributes you planned to observe. Clean up your interview notes, review your comments, and justify your rating. Meet with the experienced interviewers to compare notes before submitting your feedback. You'll learn more about how to keep your rubrics bias free in another lesson.

Remember: the success of a job interview doesn't depend on just the applicant. As an interviewer, it's your responsibility to prepare resources, drive the conversation, and write timely, objective feedback. Applying these best practices will help you find and hire the right people for your team.

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Interviewing Talent for Startups


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