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Lessons from Keith Rabois Essay 2: How to Interview an Executive

Delian Asparouhov
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Hiring the right executive is one of the most leveraged activities a CEO can perform.

5 Traits to Assess Candidates On

  1. Value creation vs. value protection
    1. Ask yourself if the executive role you are filling is value creating or protecting.
    2. For a value creation role, you need an ambitious risk taker.
    3. For a value protection role, you are looking for someone calculated & conservative.
  2. Ownership mentality
    1. Look for someone who thinks about the business as an owner, rather than an employee with a specific role.
    2. They worry that the company is not as great as it could be.
  3. Strategic thinking
    1. Figure out if a candidate can keep a business equation in their head & understand how to affect the equation.
    2. See if they identify key risks & advantages of your business.
  4. Filling in the gaps
    1. Write down all existential risks to the business & strengths of the current leadership team. Fill in the biggest gaps amongst the risks when hiring.
    2. Spend at least 15-20 hours with an executive before hiring them; give them homework & discuss their work with them.
  5. Leadership & magnet for talent
    1. Has the candidate built teams before? Look for signals from hobbies or college days.
    2. Ask the candidate to come up with a hiring plan & see if it aligns with the risks you expect them to tackle.
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