8 Hiring Lessons from a Co-Founder

By Abbas Sarraf

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By: Abbas Sarraf, Co-Founder and Head of Product at Aimsio 

To date, we’ve conducted hundreds of interviews and hired over 30 people. We had to do a lot of reading before making our first hire and we eventually became firm believers in the saying “hire like your life depends on it”. You only need one bad apple to see the downfall begin.

On the other hand, great people attract even greater people. At Aimsio, we are proud to have hired such a great and diverse team. And since the interview process is the first point of contact between Aimsio and potential new employees, I would like to share my thoughts and some of the lessons we learned along the way.

Before we dive into the lessons, if you're interested in learning more about our hiring process, check out the section at the bottom of the page.

Now, onto the lessons from a Co-Founder:

Lesson #1: We don’t ask questions in a predetermined order. Instead, we listen carefully and choose the follow up questions based on the given answers. A good interview feels like talking to a colleague. You wouldn’t bombard your colleague with question after question. Instead, you start and carry a conversation.

Lesson #2: For me, I always start by asking: Tell me about yourself. Can you walk me through your professional career in a few minutes? Then I adjust my follow up questions based on the answer. I look for something interesting in their story. I want to discover everything unique about the person I interview. I find something to challenge the interviewee and push them out of their comfort zone to gauge if they get defensive or if they can reflect on their experience or sometimes even challenge me back.

Lesson #3: Then there are the obvious questions: I always ask about gaps in their resume and why they changed jobs. If they had a short tenure in a job, I ask why. Everybody brings their best to the interview. My job as an interviewer is to peel off the layers and get to know the person I am interviewing.

Lesson #4: Three questions that are worthwhile to ask are: 1. Tell me about your biggest f* up. 2. How did you deal with the aftermath? 3. What would you have done differently?

Lesson #5: Another favourite: Tell me something that I won’t find in your resume. This question gets people to talk about what they are really passionate about.

Lesson #6: I always say an interview is a two-way street. They are interviewing as much as they are being interviewed. People should prepare for the interview, get to learn the company, and the culture, look at their social media. Ask smart questions.

Lesson #7: At the end of an interview, interviewers should compare notes. They should discuss why they would want to hire this person and why they wouldn’t. As a bonus, thanks to Lazlo Bock, they should write down the comments and score the interviewee. That helps keep the interviews out of personal bias and consistent throughout the organization.

Lesson #8: We go through interviews in order to get to know our potential future colleagues. We seek to find the answer to a simple question: Are they a fit for our company? At the end of the day, an interview is a collective effort. Many future colleagues will interview candidates in different rounds. And like I said, the goal is simple: do we see ourselves as colleagues? It is not the end of the world if we don’t.



A piece of wisdom from our HR team

The above lessons from Abbas come into play primarily in the final interview step, the Founders Interview. However, we thought it might be helpful for you to understand our entire recruitment process. We use a consistent hiring process. Meaning that while the process is generally consistent across all roles, it is always consistent within each role. This makes it fair for all candidates.

The first part of our recruitment process is a screening call with HR. This is when we ask the questions that will help determine if they’re right for the role. From there, successful candidates come in for a team interview. The "team" who interviews the candidate can pretty much be anyone at Aimsio. The next stage is the Technical Challenge. Everyone who works at Aimsio has had a technical challenge of some kind, related to their discipline.

Finally, the selected candidates move on to the Founders Interview. In this interview, the Founders challenge the candidate on their submission. You gotta get through the Founders Interview to join us at Aimsio!

If you’re interested in working at Aimsio, check out our Careers page on our website.



by Abbas Sarraf

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