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Want to hire the right team? Exhaust your interviewees

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Every startup wants to hire rock stars, but in a hyper-competitive market like San Francisco, finding — and keeping — top-level talent is daunting. Matt MacInnis, co-founder and CEO of publishing platform Inkling, believes he’s found a way to scale his workforce without sacrificing quality. For MacInnis, it’s about making sure the company’s values are perpetuated with every new employee. That sounds amorphous and touchy-feely, but the process becomes rigid during the interview phase. Only a small number of people conduct interviews, MacInnis still meets every prospective hire, and the interviews are designed to be exhausting for the applicant so the company can see what the person is like when they are tired.

In this episode of See Founders Run, MacInnis talks more about how he scaled his workforce from 10 to 100 employees in two years, and why his startup has an “insanely low” attrition rate.

(I’m sorry about the audible tapping at a few points throughout the video. It’s subtle — but there– and I didn’t hear it during taping.)

6 Responses to “Want to hire the right team? Exhaust your interviewees”

  1. The interview process is flawed. Most times we make up our mind in the first few minutes (positive or negative) and then ask questions that will confirm our opinion. There is ample evidence of this in the works of Kahneman and in books by Pfeffer and Sutton.
    Chasing irrelevant metrics based on a single performance is also wrong (as we saw in Moneyball). Single performance says nothing as we all eventually revert to mean. Rock-star performance by the ninja you were looking for could easily be a 3-sigma event.

    Performance in interview is also not a predictor of future performance. People who excel at interviews get hired and go on to look for other who excel at interviews and hire them.

    Here is a recommendation that is based on Kahneman’s method of metrics driven hiring

  2. Never could deal with the repetition – which is why even when I was interviewing with a firm that interested me I had alternatives coming to the boil. Sometimes with competitors.

    Warmed the cockles of my heart to be able to callback an HR “expert” of this style – who was trying to reach me to schedule a 5th interview – and tell him “sorry, but, I’ve taken a position elsewhere”.

  3. Donna Cusano

    His ideas re purpose and good benefits are sound…but the interview technique is flawed. Exhaustion and ‘get there-itis’ leading to poor judgment is why startups fail. Been there, done that. I notice he didn’t say anything about ‘diversity’ and that means experience and yes, age. Everything is nice and consistent and groupthink. You can find out about people’s values and ethics without this crazy approach. It’s called spending time with them and using your noggin. BTW sociopaths would still get through this torture test. And the tapping is probably the overly wired Mr. MacInnis’ foot uncontrollably banging the table or floor.

  4. Patrick Magee

    Management seems to be going back to the bad old days of whips and chains. Work ’em ’til they drop, then punish them for making a mistake. I hope they know this is how unions got their grip in other industries. I’m glad retirement is near…

    • Chris Albrecht

      Patrick, are you referring to MacInnis and Inkling? If you watch the video, he’s actually the opposite of that. He’s just advocating having a very rigorous process for bringing people into the company, so he doesn’t have to work them till they drop. They all have a sense of purpose.

  5. Reblogged this on rogerskyy and commented:
    I found this a fantastic enlightening read, in a world where startups are selling for 1 billion with only 12 employees I think its extremely important to be aware of what makes them tick. Step one for a start up. Hire a great team.