In the typical interview process, you have an initial meeting. You may have a second meeting, and maybe a third. You talk the decision over with your family, but those conversations happen behind closed doors.
As far as your future boss is concerned, you operate in a vacuum. And when you receive the offer, it comes to you alone.
At ThoughtSpot, a company that provides search-based analytics for enterprises, things work a little differently.
Founder and CEO Ajeet Singh isn’t just interested in meeting with you as part of the interview process. He also wants to meet your family.
To Singh, it’s only logical. “In my family, making career choices is a joint decision between my wife and me,” he tells Business Insider. “And I believe all spouses and children will play a part in ThoughtSpot’s long-term plan.”
So when a candidate is in the final rounds of interviews, Singh makes the offer: would the candidate’s partner like to meet him?
That’s because on a fundamental level, Singh believes supportive families are what makes ThoughtSpot possible.
“I started my first company the same week my son was born,” he recalls. “People said we were crazy.” He was leaving a secure job at Aster Data. He was about to be a dad. He didn’t yet have a green card.”You can’t do crazy things like that without a supportive family,” he says.
Starting that company — the enterprise virtualization and storage company Nutanix — required “a leap of faith,” and Singh is well aware he wasn’t the only one jumping.
When you join a startup, everybody in your family has to be willing to “see past the ambiguity” that’s inherent to the process, he explains: What will it take? What if it fails? Why can’t you just get a job at Google?
It should be a joint decision, he says. And accordingly, families are “just as important to the company’s future as the employees themselves.”
By that logic, meeting with a potential hires’ spouse only makes sense.
“I want [spouses] to know that we’re not a company full of mercenaries that are going to bleed their families dry and not care about their life outside of work,” he says. No one sleeps under their desks, he says. You’re allowed to go home on weekends. “There are so many myths,” Singh says, and he’s out to dispel them.
But he also wants to verify that families are on board. The spouse meeting isn’t a formal part of the interview process — and certainly, it’s not required — but it’s not
part of the interview process, either.
“As much as I want to make sure the candidate is a good fit for our company, I also want to be sure that ThoughtSpot can support their goals outside of work,” Singh explains.
Worries come up organically, he says — he’s not interrogating anyone. And usually, he’s found, a spouse’s concerns can be resolved. But if and when they can’t, Singh is willing to call it a deal breaker.
“If a spouse is worried about an issue that I don’t think we can solve, then it’s likely a sign that we’re not a good fit,” he explains. “For instance, if in our conversations I discover that working at ThoughtSpot is going to be too disruptive to their home and relationships, I’m comfortable sharing that — even if it means ending the hiring process with an awesome candidate.”
There’s something unsettling about the idea that your partner could play such a role in your professional life. Even if you accept the Sandbergian wisdom that who you marry is the most important career decision you make, the idea of your CEO meeting your husband before the paperwork is signed takes the blurring of the personal and the professional to the next level.
But in Singh’s experience, the meetings have been nothing but a positive.
“In every case where [the spouse] agreed to the meeting, afterward they were glad they did,” he says. “I know because they have told me.” They feel more comfortable with the company after the meeting, Singh finds. So far, it’s never prevented him from making an offer, though he acknowledges it could.
According to Singh, the process isn’t a clever innovation; it’s a “no-brainer,” he says. “My career choices, highs, and lows are all experiences that affect my spouse and children deeply.” The weird thing isn’t that he involves families; the weird thing is that other places don’t.
“[S]startups can be pretty brutal about not having other priorities,” one anonymous tech executive told the New York Times. But Singh says it doesn’t have to be that way — and his interview process is one way of putting his money, quite literally, where his mouth is.
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