Interviewing? Looking for your next role? Been through a lay off? Hoping to grab that VP title next? Or CRO or CMO?
One bit of advice:
Please, please, actually research the company you are interviewing at. For real. At least for 30-45 minutes, ideally more.
I can’t tell you how many interviews I’ve done for a wide variety of roles, from SDR to COO, where the candidates literally were guessing what the company really did during the interview:
- Not too long ago, I did a final CRO interview to help a portfolio company. I asked this CRO how he’d handle the fact that 66% of their revenue came from indirect and channel. He said that was the first time he’d heard that.
- The other day I did a similar final, fourth round interview for a VPM. He completely misunderstood the value prop of the startup. He hadn’t watched even the basic 2 minute explainer video on the homepage of the website. I ended the interview (politely) after 10 minutes and told him to watch the video. A week later, he emailed me back — “Aha! Now I see who they sell to!”
It’s so, so easy to stand out in recruiting if you’ve actually done your homework. Invest those extra cycles.
And it’s not just me:
“I was hiring a head of partnerships in my last role and Eric Melchor was the only candidate who showed up not only with a robust understanding of our leaders, and our team but also had an entire slide deck of how he planned to run different partner motions. We took 1 day to deliberate, cancelled all our other interviews and hired him on the spot.” — Casey Hill, Sr Growth Manager, ActiveCampaign
“Be highly over prepared, sign up for demos of their products, talk to sales, look at the org chart, connect with other team members, board members, look at their culture on YouTube, Twitter, research competitors, read analyst reports. Be a consultant, build your 30/60/90 plan and job description and iterate and validate during the interview. At a C-level you are interviewing the client to identify culture fit, blockers, budget, vision and can you execute, fund and build your strategy.” — Troy Legwiniski, AI & Innovation Executive
“I talked with a Foresters Financial co exec a number of years who relayed a story of talking with a candidate that asked about how the tree cutting business was going.” — Peter Armaly, VP of CS at ESG
“Agreed. This is what helped us to determine which CSM candidate to move forward with. One had done their research and dropped nuggets throughout the interview, the other one had no idea who are customers even were.” — Jason Prater, Co-Founder, Cella Technologies
“I always ask a question as an interviewer, like, “Based on everything you know about our company and product, if I gave you five devs and $100,000, what would you build?” It becomes immediately clear if they have any idea who our key customer is, what our value prop is to them, and what bets are on how we move that forward. No matter what they say, it will be ‘wrong,’ but I’m looking to see if it’s thought out and whether they’ve “done their homework” on the role/company. Usually works pretty well.” — Brian Gibson, Founder, b26n
“Staggering… for a CRO job once, at the final hurdle it was down to me and one other. I was asked to run a 90-minute workshop with senior people and an external consultant. I spent a week preparing and about halfway into that I realized that something was off about the pricing page, so I redid it from scratch and presented towards the end of the “workshop”. Chalk and cheese I was told afterwards. The other candidate didn’t put in the work. I also pre-surveyed every attendee with a 15-minute questionnaire and then analyzed the hell out of the responses. The other candidate spent most of the workshop asking questions to understand the situation. So yeah – put in the work…” — Simon S. CRO, SaaS Elevator
“Yeah and this isn’t even hard. 10 minutes of prep is literally the difference. Sometimes the bar is shockingly low, even for leadership roles” — David Fallarme, VPM, Spotdraft
“One time, a candidate had created a free trial account on our SaaS tool, plus trials on competitors. He brought in printouts and recommended improvements we should consider and why. I hired him on the spot.” — Raj Khera, EVP, WealthEngine
“100% agree. In the past if I sensed the candidate didn’t prepare or do his/her homework prior to our interview, I’d ask them “tell me how you prepared for our discussion today.” That question can be revealing. Then I’d let them know how I prepared for the meeting so they knew I invested my time to get ready. At times this would lead to me politely ending the discussion. Sometimes they had prepped and I just wasn’t picking up on it or they weren’t showing how they prepped. Interviews are like first dates…..discussion 1 is likely the best version of the candidate you will ever see. If they didn’t prep, move on quickly.” — Steve Bailey, SVP Sales, EdCast
(image from here)