As founder of Eventbrite, I’ve interviewed almost every single person we’ve hired.
Why? It’s not to veto hires—in fact, my co-founder and I empower our teams to make the right decision, and we give our assessment of the candidate much like anyone else on the interview team would.
The real reason is that, in my mind, there’s nothing more important than helping outsiders gain a greater understanding of what kind of company we are and how they might fit into our team. By the time the I meet candidates in the “Founder’s Round,” they have already been interviewed by the team and have executed an assignment related to the skills needed for the current challenge we are trying to solve. Since the candidates are already vetted, I’m allowed to turn my interview into a true conversation.
Here’s a bit of insight into the process.
After we introduce ourselves, I usually start by asking the candidate to tell me his or her story (which I know is a daunting request!). Interviewees tend to search for clues, wondering where to start in their life story. What I’m really looking for is a great summary of the interviewee’s life and career, but not for just entertainment value (although I love a great story). I’m specifically looking for three things: motivation, intention, and conviction.
Next, I delve into the position that we’re hiring for. I skip over the “Why Eventbrite?” because it never gives much insight into the person answering it. It also feels like an open door to unsolicited compliments—and I don’t need those. What I really want to know is how well the interviewees understand three things: the challenge we are trying to solve, the skills that we need to solve it, and how they can prove they possess those skills. Understanding the significance of the position and the strong connection to the greater vision of the company is a great plus!
I always end the interview by turning the tables, giving the candidate the opportunity to ask me any lingering questions. The Founder’s Round interview is likely the last in-person interview candidates will have before being hired, and I want them to fully grasp the opportunity and the company’s mission and values. In addition, I evaluate the types of questions the candidates ask. If they pose questions that can be easily answered by reading press on Eventbrite, it’s likely they are either underprepared or extremely nervous.
Not sure what to ask? I love being asked about certain parts of the business and questions that allow me to give context and perspective. I also love when a candidate asks uncomfortable questions. The more candid, the better.
Of course, all Founder’s Round interviews will be different depending on the culture of the company, the interviewer, and the role. But for the most part, remember that this shouldn’t be a big, scary event. After all, if you’ve made it this far, the team probably already thinks you can succeed. By being honest, open, warm and genuinely interested in sharing your story with the interviewer, you’ll be just fine.