A startup CEO explains the question he always uses to kick off a senior-level job interview

Randy Nicolau PoppinRandy NicolauIt’s all about evolving, according to Poppin CEO Randy Nicolau (pictured).

Hiring people is really hard.

Sure, getting hired can be difficult in certain situations, but actually selecting people to join your team is an art in and of itself.

That’s why Randy Nicolau, cofounder and CEO of office product startup Poppin, says he has a certain question he likes to kick off interviews with.

It’s meant to separate the “cogs” from candidates who would fit in with the startup vibe at Poppin, which has around 100 employees.

“If bureaucracy and politics played a role in their previous job, it’s going to really be hard to break somebody out of that,” Nicolau says. “If we get a hint of that, we realise that it’s probably not going to be a good fit for us. A person coming from traditional corporate America has learned all the bad habits that we don’t want to have to un-train.”

So how does Nicolau determine who’s a bad match when he interviews senior-level candidates?

He says one question usually does the trick: “Tell me about the single moment in your career that you’re most proud of.

“I feel like if you’ve been working for six, seven, or eight years, you should have that defining moment,” he told Business Insider. “That thing that you worked on, that time you learned something new, or when you turned something around. If you’ve just been a cog for seven or eight years and you’re at that director level, you could be a great director, but we like to hire people who have continually upward mobility. I try to get a sense of that single career defining-moment.”

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