Chronological In Depth Survey Interviews

Nearly 10 years ago I first learned about Topgrading and the chronological in depth survey interviews. Generally, the idea is to do an incredibly detailed interview of every past job for people in management and senior management positions. Start from college, regardless of stage of career, and ask deep probing questions. Find out how the person thinks and why they moved from position to position.

Here’s how to do chronological in depth survey interviews:

  • For each and every single job, ask about the following:
    Job title
    Start and end date
    Starting and ending compensation
    Roles and responsibilities
    State of affairs when joining
    Results and accomplishments
    Mistakes and failures
    Most enjoyable and least enjoyable aspects of the job
    Circumstances that led to change of jobs
    Manager name and phone number
    Manager strengths and weaknesses
    What manager would say about candidate’s strengths and weaknesses
    Names of direct reports, their strengths and weaknesses, and rate them A through F
  • After the jobs review sections ask questions about the following:
    Analysis skills
    Judgement/decision making
    Creativity
    Continuing education
    Integrity
    Organization/planning
    Independence
    Stress management
    Interpersonal competencies

Plan for this process to take 3-4 hours, minimum. Hiring great people is one of the three most important things an entrepreneur does and chronological in depth survey interviews are key.

What else? What are some more thoughts on chronological in depth survey interviews?

2 thoughts on “Chronological In Depth Survey Interviews

  1. Interesting read. But 3-4 hours per person? Isn’t that too much? I am sure we can probably shave an hour or two just by not asking the questions that we would already know from the CV. For example, job title, company, start and end date, as well as results and accomplishments would all be written on the CV.

    Just a thought… I like the questions which focus on skills, wouldn’t it be much more productive to ask those type of questions? Personally, when I hire people, I don’t care about their degree, or how they did in previous posts. I care about what they can bring to the table.

    Anyway… thats just my 2 cents. But overall an interesting read, would like to see what others think

    • How much time do you spend interviewing someone before hiring them? 3-4 hours doesn’t seem like much if you plan on working with them for 2-3 years at 2,000 hours/year.

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