Angela Baldonero’s Philosophy On Interviewing

I can’t remember when Angela Baldonero joined Return Path, but she’s been there for as long as I can remember. I invested in Return Path eleven years ago at the very beginning of its life. Today it is a profitable, 250 person company that is growing quickly, dominates its market segment, and is an awesome place to work. Angela has been a big part of both hiring many of the people and orchestrating the culture of the company so I very much value her point of view on interviewing. I hope you do also.

Everything is data. The candidate’s responsiveness during the interview process, how the candidate treats the admin staff, and the candidate’s ability to communicate is data. Are you interviewing someone for a tech leadership role who doesn’t have a skype account? Data point. Do you fly a candidate out for interviews who then nickels and dimes you on expenses? Data point. Does your candidate send a thank you note? Data point. Is it well written and specific or a lame generic note? Data point.

Give the candidate feedback and see what she does with it. People are wiggy about feedback. Someone who is self-aware and mature will take it in and own it, then makes sense of how she had that impact. An immature person will get defensive or refute it.

Never sacrifice your culture. Highly qualified yet bad attitude hires wreak havoc with your culture, suck up a ton of management  bandwidth and ultimately don’t get anything done. It doesn’t matter if the candidate has cured cancer or invented Jell-o. An asshole is an asshole. Fiercely protect your culture.

People can’t help but be themselves. The interview process is flawed. People are “acting” in order to get a job. You want to know how this person really is to see if they’re a good fit at your company. Interviews take time and people can only fake it for so long. If they’re “putting on a show” in the interview process, that will eventually be revealed.

Give you candidate something to do. This creates a bit of productive stress and shows you what they’re made of. For example, ask a sales person to do a presentation.  We’ve axed many sales people because they fell apart during the presentation.

  • thanks for the post!

  • thanks for the post!

  • Brilliant post.

    The horrible feeling of regret that comes over you the minute you realize the person who showed up for the job is not the person you interviewed IS avoidable.  The wise words of Angela Baldonero should be taken in, stored, and executed with care. Finding (and keeping) a great team is critical to the organization’s longevity, and it depends first, on the quality of talent acquisition.  If the people who show up to work do not work and/or work out, the organization is automatically suffering from a self-inflicted risk. Success is compromised from an internal source (interviewing/hiring) and you become your enemy.  There are many things that can work against the profitability and sustainability of a startup which makes minimizing the mistakes made during the interview process very important. They are costly and uncomfortable, and when there is a cultural misfit added to the team, it can be poisonous to the developing culture, with effects that last well beyond the presence of the individual.  It is a wise to invest the time and resources it takes to find the very best and culturally fit people to join your team.If you do not have education and experience in this area, it is critical that you find ‘somebody’ who is qualified to help you.  Intuition goes a long way in interview process, but experience can add irreplaceable insight.  Thank you for a great post!

  • J C

    These days the strictly question and answer interview is obsolete. The fifth point really hits home- what better way to test the waters than asking a candidate to perform the function they will be asked to do on the job.

  • Switching sides, let’s say you go in to a casual interview with someone you know has no time to spare, yet still grants you the favor of five minutes to hear your pitch (which you obviously are grateful for). To cut to the chase they immediately give u a task to see what your thought process would be related to the job you were aiming for (in this case marketing), only to find their end response addresses not what the position required (or was described as being needed filled), but rather you end up being criticized for not starting with the basics….i.e. instead of leading off with various ideas for viable ‘stop-gaps’ to solve a problem which was resulting in a loss of revenue I should have instead started with describing whether I was going to first do a SWOT type exercise on my first day had I been hired or any other similar long-term strategy.

    Truth me told my first thought (yes this wasn’t a hypothetical question but an old experience of mine) was maybe I had miss-understood the real problem at hand and in the 3 minute trial by fire picked the wrong approach, only to then realizing the silver-lining in the criticism – i wasn’t going to be a good person for that role, regardless of if I switched gears and presented later on what they wanted to hear…I was going in thinking they were looking for what i’d do on day one not on day 5. It was somewhat like a back-handed compliment though one and one that I was happy to receive.My question to you guys though is what my next move was and your thoughts on it. I stayed in contact, though didn’t ever pursue another opportunity with the company, however instead of sending a thank you card became an evangelist for their product/company and sought out the target demo which wasn’t being tapped on my own….mind you this company relied on selling content as a revenue stream. Which would you have preferred, the more traditional approach or an accountable new source of income as my way of saying thanks (the advice was I walked in having been too use to ‘wearing many hats’ instead of tailoring my approach directly at a more singular strength). It was true, and he’d been the only one to actually bring it up because he also was the first i’d had to pitch myself to for a job without first showing a portfolio/past experiences prior to the chat. So I guess i’m being long-winded in this post, again the question is just which would you prefer: a traditional job candidates’ response, or an unseen tip of the hat? Better yet, are you still relying on old methodologies of hiring practices or do you see a room for change?

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