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Why CEOs Should Interview Every Candidate

Updated: Oct 22

At Social Tables, we have a pretty robust interview process. Candidates get interviewed by at least 8 Tablers and each one of them has veto power. One down vote most certainly means the candidate’s doom.


We use Lever, which makes applicant tracking and interviewing collaborative and easy.


The last step of our interview process is a 15–30 minute call with me and we haven’t extended an offer to a candidate without it. (99% of the candidates I speak to pass.) Our entire interview process, including this call, is structured because research tells us that structured interviews are more valid and reliable than unstructured interviews.


These are the questions I ask and the reason behind each of them.

  1. How do you think you’ve done so far? The goal here is to see how self-aware the candidate is.

  2. What’s one thing you would change from your previous interviews? The goal here is to give people a chance to have a “do over.” We’ve all been in interviews where we feel like we could have done a little better.

  3. What feedback do you have on our interview process? I try to pull feedback from the candidate to see if they think critically and to learn on how we can improve their experience.

  4. Tell me about your connection to the DC area. Research (and our past experience) shows that community embeddedness is correlated to retention so I want to see how connected they are to our region.

  5. How did you find out about Social Tables? I’m always interested in hearing how someone found out about the position.

  6. What made you interested? I look for substantive reasons for why they want to work at our company.

  7. Tell me about your last performance review. How did you do? Past performance predicts future performance so this is very important and it gives me an opportunity to dig in.

  8. Describe our culture to us based on what you’ve learned thus far. I want to see how much research the candidate has done and how representative our culture is to the outside world.

  9. What do you think it’s going to be like working at a startup? Many candidates idealize startups and don’t know much about them. I want to make sure their expectations are aligned with who we are.

Even though it might be time consuming, I see so many benefits to having a CEO interview with every candidate.

  1. It sends a message to the candidate that they are important and that we care about them.

  2. It gives me the opportunity to interface with them and get to know them.

  3. It sets expectations for high performance because I am spending time speaking to them.

  4. It gives me a chance to get feedback about our interview process so that we could keep improving it.

  5. It gives me a sense of what our candidate profile looks like and what our employer brand is.

If you are a CEO and you’re not interviewing candidates you’re about to hire, I suggest you start today.

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© Dan j. Berger

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