Lets say you left the job you did for 2-3 years, i.e.the co-founder of a startup. You were fired, “let go”, decided to leave or “step down”. Either ways, you are doing something different than what you started.
Then time passes and you are asked to step-in again – for the same role, but a different job than before. Same role since you were the founder and CEO, but different job since the company is bigger (or smaller) now, and has a different set of challenges than you left before.
This is not a hypothetical situation – this happens not only at bigger companies – Zynga, Yahoo, Twitter, but at most startups after a significant round of financing as well.
You will now have to “interview” for the role again.
For any CEO / founder role, the board will be involved, and probably initiate the search, but also get inputs from the current management team and the “interim CEO”.
The new team will have to determine if you are the right candidate for the role, given many criteria, but we can boil it down to the top 3 that matter.
1. Competence: For any role, not just the CEO, “can the person get it done?”, is the first question most of us ask – skills, expertise, knowledge and capability to execute among other things are a must have. These are what we call table stakes.
2. Communication: A key skill and capability that sits head and shoulder above all others is the ability to communicate – written, spoken, one-one and one-many. We also put ability to motivate people to take action into this bucket.
3. Culture: Unlike in larger, older and more established companies, culture plays a very important role in smaller, younger ones. Building the right team and ensuring they are all working towards common goals and aligned objectives and is important to attract the right people for the role.
So the million dollar question to ask yourself as a founder is:
If I were to interview for my role as an outsider, will I get this job?
I know a founder, who goes through a formal interview process EVERY YEAR with 2 of his board members, 3 of his direct reports (different ones each year) and one outside executive recruiter.
His rationale for this is simple – it keeps him honest and gives him a clear picture on things he needs to do for the next year in 3,6, 12 month time horizons.
It is a great trick in your book to have. Try it.
Tell me if it helps you.
Interviewing for a job you already have. Will you make the cut?