Why Founders Must Learn to Listen During Interviews

(Also known as "Shut Up And Get Curious!")

Our job is helping leaders become exceptional at evaluating talent. One of the hardest (but most rewarding) parts is breaking bad habits. 

There is one bad habit we encounter with very high frequency, especially amongst startup founders. They tend to launch into impromptu mini-speeches—little tidbits about their company, the market, their opinions on AI, their history or background, or (frequently) unprompted reflections about what the candidate just said.

They can be forgiven for the impulse—their job is to sell, inspire and capture the attention of a diverse set of stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, partners, etc.). And they’re usually quite smart—and naturally very opinionated. 

The problem is that, in an interview situation, this “mini-speech” habit is wildly counterproductive. Not only does it create friction to the flow of data (stories) from the candidate, it also broadcasts information that savvy, smooth-talking candidates can use to shape their narrative. 

As a result, we hear one “pain point” from founders with very high frequency: hiring individuals who talked a great game but did not end up delivering!

The remedy is simple, but it requires taking a leap of faith. If you will take this leap, with diligence and discipline, you will build better teams. You will move your business forward faster, and with greater certainty. 

What is that leap? 

  1. SHUT UP

For this one precious moment, quiet the chatter in your mind. Focus exclusively on the candidate’s story. If the story is relevant to the role in question, dive deeper. If it’s not, use that curious energy to politely move them on to the next story (i.e., your next question).

We have a training program specifically designed for founders, via Talgo On Demand. We go deep on this subject. And this program is paired with live coaching, which is the fastest way to nip these habits in the bud. 

Happy Hiring!

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