When working with a CEO/Founder or VP People, they often describe their ideal hire as someone who they shout "hell YES!" about after the interview. This idea of getting to a "hell yes" candidate is one that makes us chuckle but also fully understand.
The journey to hire is often one of complexity and continual management of expectations - it can also get emotional.
Based on our 20+ years of building teams for venture-funded startups, here is our top 5 list of reasons why a Founder or CEO considers someone a hell yes:
How to effectively connect with strangers is difficult to describe. These soft skills are hard to coach for as they take a lot of practice.
Connecting is all the soft fuzzy stuff that includes a combination of compatible personalities, empathy, confidence, mutual understanding, listening skills, eye contact, the right amount of smiling, and a sprinkle of occasional humor.
There is either a connection during a first interview, or there isn't. This is why it's our first reason some candidates are part of a vague hell yes group.
Connecting the Dots
A candidate who connects the dots and can communicate how their past experiences will help to advance the outcomes of the employer is one who will succeed.
Having this knowledge and ability generally stems from a candidate who knows the problem space well or has researched and given it thought through the lens of the job opportunity.
Either way, this candidate has the ability to effectively communicate the shortest path to the outcome the client wants to achieve. When this happens, it's magic.
Transparency and Demonstrated Humility
We live in a time where authenticity is valued because it's so rare, especially in an interview setting. There is an artificial nature to interviews with sayings like "put your best foot forward" or "fake it till you make it."
Every interviewer is interested in discovering the real person behind the resume, which is why most interviews include questions such as "tell me about a time you failed and what it taught you?"
The candidate who can communicate genuinely, appropriately express regret over decisions made, and/or self-reflect about how they could have done things differently is relatable and authentic—a type of person who will stand out as a valuable team player and member.
Reasonable and (Appropriate) Tough Questions
Every interview prep includes "be ready to ask questions." However, when it comes to interviewing for tech startups, there are questions, and then there are questions.
The funny thing is, it's less about the question and more about why a candidate considered asking that question. Questions reveal a lot about how a person thinks, how tactical or strategic a person is and how well-formed their assumptions are (or are not).
A hell yes candidate understands what questions are essential to the stage of the interview they are in. They are someone who uses their questions to validate their candidacy and ask questions in a thoughtful pre-planned manner.
Sparkle and Magic
Similar to the intangible qualities of number one, a hell yes candidate often contains a quality that goes beyond any obvious job requirements.
They know people in common or their interests outside of work are complementary to that of a leader (i.e., living in the same neighborhood, artistic abilities, charitable work, or we've even heard playing in a band!).
We've encountered too many unique situations whereby people connected on levels not related to the job.
As much as hiring is about performance and outputs, it's also connecting with a person—a person whom you will spend 40+ hours a week with. Feeling a connection and being excited about a candidate joining is a pivotal part of the process.