April 6, 2016

3 Ingredients for Successful Interviews and Superb Karaoke

Sara Debrule

People Ops

The Wistia team recently boarded a bus and made the trek from Cambridge, MA to Killington, VT on our aptly dubbed annual ski outing, Wiskia. We spent time bonding, skiing, feasting, and building bonfires. When the sun set, the music came on, and the mics came out for a round of karaoke.

While you can typically find us empowering one another to hone our flatsides, do our best work, and contribute to a burgeoning company, we also relish opportunities to celebrate one another’s creative displays of talent. And celebrate we did while people took hold of the mic and rapped, sung, and crooned to an assortment of golden oldies, top 40’s hits, rap classics, rock ballads, you name it.

Karaoke and interviewing

Looking back on this experience, it’s abundantly clear that the art of karaoke is not too dissimilar from the art of interviewing. The following are three essential ingredients that make both endeavors successful:

1. Song choice

The "song" in an interview setting is the stories we share about our experiences as members of the Wistia family. We don’t get caught up in telling the "right" story that we think candidates will want to hear about our company and the job we’re hiring for. Rather, we focus on being genuine and authentic by sharing our successes, our challenges, our failures, and our individual experiences.

This transparency provides candidates with a window into what they can expect if they decide to join Wistia. With this realistic perspective, candidates are empowered to make an informed decision about whether or not the job and the working environment is consistent with the conditions that inspire them to do their best work.

“This transparency provides candidates with a window into what they can expect if they decide to join Wistia.”

2. Harmony

The harmony is how we structure interviews with candidates so that everyone on the interviewing team has ownership over a specific theme. The themes that our interviewers are assigned, like "problem solving," "learning on the fly," and "personal mastery," are skill sets and attributes that we value at Wistia. Each theme has a specific subset of questions with a scoring rubric that equips the interviewer with a framework for their conversation and a way to gauge the quality of a candidate’s responses.

This approach enables us to nurture a delightful candidate experience by minimizing discordant moments for candidates—like facing the same questions over and over again or being asked to come back for an unplanned interview due to gaps in insight gleaned during the first round.

3. Singing partners

Singing partners are our interviewing teams comprised of people from a variety of departments within the business. With this approach, we are able to lean on one another’s different interviewing strengths. For example, some of us are really good at uncovering an individual’s technical abilities, while others are better at uncovering soft skills.

“With this approach, we are able to lean on one another’s different interviewing strengths.”

When we sit down to make a decision about a candidate, the different interviewers’ perspectives allow us to gain a 360 degree view of an individual’s abilities and make an informed hiring decision. Because our candidates interact with an assortment of team members, they develop a clear vision of how our business operates as a whole, how teams interact with one another, and how their role impacts the organization.

Without the essential ingredients, interviewing looks like this:

With the essential ingredients, interviewing looks like this:

Karaoke experiences that embody these ingredients strike a chord, leave people in gleeful awe, and result in audience participation. We’re actively aspiring to similarly master the art of interviewing.

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