These Are the Questions Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec Will Ask You in a Job Interview
The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you build a strong team?” is by Robert Herjavec, founder of Herjavec Group.
I’m a strong believer that you can’t build a successful business with a mediocre team. You want to surround yourself with people who will challenge you and share your passion for growing the business. Now onto the hard part: finding and hiring those people.
When I started Herjavec Group back in 2003, I did it with two co-founders. I trusted them and had worked with them before, and we each brought a different skill set to the table (George in sales, Sean in technology, and me in business operations). We knew we had the ability and expertise to own our areas, but when you’re starting a business, you’re doing everything from answering phones to taking orders to selling to installing to finding an office space. So you want partners and team members who are willing to jump in and get their hands dirty.
I was fortunate to have worked with George and Sean for as long as I did before we founded Herjavec Group. But you don’t always have that luxury. Whether you’re co-founding a company, hiring your first employee, or looking for your 100th, remember to trust your instincts. They got you this far, and that faith in yourself will serve you well.
Trust the initial vibe
The first thing I do when I interview anyone is try to get the initial vibe of that individual through conversation completely unrelated to the business or work. If I don’t like you, I’m not going to hire you—it’s that simple.
Good teams are all about experienced and talented people working together toward a common goal. Great teams are built with individuals who complement each other—they can help each other, but still challenge each other to be their best selves. You don’t have to be best friends with all of your co-workers, but you want to create an enjoyable environment where you can at least work together.
Sink or swim
Herjavec Group is a fast-paced company, filled to the brim with individuals who are smart, talented, focused, and driven. I’ve tried so often to hire people with substantial hands-on security experience, but that doesn’t always mean they’ll be a good fit.
Sometimes you need to take a chance on someone young and new to your industry who is eager and motivated to succeed. I tend to throw my team members into the deep end way outside of their comfort zones. Those who can rise to the challenge will excel—and that’s who I want to be working with.
Ask direct questions
One of the biggest problems hiring managers run into is when individuals are great candidates during the interview phase, but once they start the job, it’s a different story. How can you weed out the good from the great earlier in the process?
My approach is to be very blunt. I ask the tough questions: “Why should I hire you?” “What value will you bring to this role?” “What did you think about the latest breach of company XYZ?” These questions aren’t meant to scare the candidates, but they do show me who has taken initiative to research our company and the industry well before the interview. I also advocate for a matrix interview style. If you’re coming onto our team as a manager or above, you’re going to meet with at least four members of our senior team so we can get a good feel for you, and so you can understand a little more about us. It’s all about the fit.
Lastly, I look at the applicant’s primary motivator. I need my employees to be laser-focused on what they want to do—it’s the only way they’ll produce their best work. So if I offer an opportunity in a different department and the applicant seems like he or she might be considering it, I don’t want him or her working for our company. I will always test our sales team hires and say, “You know, this role is really competitive, but we do have an opening on our marketing team. Are you interested?” If they show interest, I know they’re not right for us.
At the end of the day, your business is one of the most important aspects of your life. You’ve put years of blood, sweat, and tears into your company, so hire individuals you believe in. Ultimately, they’ll be helping you create your own success.