Why This Company Never Asks the Same Interview Question Twice
July 8, 2019

Why This Company Never Asks the Same Interview Question Twice

by Brian de Haaff

I have a few questions for you. “Can you tell me about yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why are you interested in our company?” If you are interviewing for a new job, you are likely hearing these questions over and over again. And if you are a late-stage applicant and hearing these from successive interviewers, it can make you wonder if anyone at the company talks to one another.

This is why we do our best to avoid asking repeat questions — we want each conversation to be fresh and purposeful for the candidate and team.

This is important because a prospective hire will almost always talk with at least four people at Aha! during the interview process. And we do not want anyone to end up in what I call “interview deja vu” — not just because it rhymes, but because it is a real phenomenon.

Interview deja vu is when a job seeker gets stuck in a loop, rehashing the same conversations in each round. This is a waste of time for the candidate and for the team. You do not learn much about each other — or what it would be like to work together.

We are deeply invested in the interview process because we know that people are the greatest resource our company has.

So we work hard to make every conversation during the interview process at Aha! meaningful. The hiring manager assigns focus areas based on an applicant’s background and experience. Teammates who interview the candidate take notes and share their impressions with the team. This ensures that the next person to speak to the prospective hire is able to learn about the applicant and move quickly into the deep conversation — no surface stuff — when we chat next.

We apply TRM in everything we do, including all of our interactions with applicants and candidates. We also look closely for values that are aligned with our own throughout the interview process.

Our ultimate goal is to understand if a candidate’s skills and values match up with what Aha! needs and vice versa. Here is how we do it:

Let values shine through Integrity. Kindness. Transparency. Our values guide everything we do at Aha! — including how we interview people. We provide guidance on what we look for in a cover letter. Although it is not possible to respond personally to every candidate due to the volume of applications we get each day, we review every single application. And we let folks know that we will respond quickly to candidates who have the right skills and experience needed.

Set a hiring framework Hiring experts is not easy. So we created a framework for it. There are six stages — awareness, apply, interview, offer, hire, and grow. We have potential outcomes outlined for each and resources for the team. Resources include training and documentation on everything from what we look for when reviewing applications to how we schedule video meetings.

Assign a lead Over the course of a week or two, candidates typically speak with a series of teammates in a predefined order. However, the hiring manager is responsible for key focus areas for every conversation and understanding the skills needed to thrive in the role. The idea is to reveal those skills, as well as values that are aligned with our own, throughout the interview process.

Be super responsive We follow The Responsive Method — so we move fast. We schedule chats every few days and stay in close contact with candidates. Promptly letting people know what will happen next shows our commitment to responsiveness and conveys respect. Establishing a flow for who will meet with an applicant keeps the process moving quickly too. So quickly, in fact, that our collective team averages about 50 interviews with candidates at various stages each week.

Take thoughtful notes We go beyond generic questions to get to the heart of what motivates people. Detailed notes help us quickly catch our teammates up on what we have already covered and what we should dig into in the next conversation. This way, we can move beyond basic resume bullets and truly understand what drives the applicant to do great work.

Act with kindness We do our best to be kind when we need to deliver what might be disappointing news. The hiring manager lets the person know as soon as possible and provides insight into why. This frees the applicant to move on and find an opportunity better suited to them. For exceptional applicants that might have too little or too much experience for a given role, we frequently stay in touch — Aha! is growing fast and there may be an opportunity for them in the future.

Interviews can be a valuable opportunity for job seekers and hiring managers alike to discover shared values.

For us, the goal is to understand if a candidate will be happy at Aha! and if they have the skills and interests needed to contribute in a meaningful and sustainable way. And regardless of whether a person ends up joining our team or not, our collective job is to ensure that every interaction with us is terrific and the process ends with them thinking highly of Aha! and of themselves.

The next time you apply for a role, look closely at how the company manages the interview process. The questions they ask — and how they treat you along the way — can be a good indication of what it would be like to actually work there.

What does an ideal job interview look like to you?

Our team is happy, productive, and hiring — join us!

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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