Former Google recruiter’s No. 1 job interview tip: Teach him something

Nolan Church has worked in talent acquisition for over a decade at major brands such as Google and DoorDash. As a longtime recruiter, he’s seen all kinds of faux-pas play out in the job interview process.

Among his red flags is when an interviewee puts on an act during the interview. “You can clearly tell they’ve been rehearsing the same answers over and over again,” he says. And maybe they’re focusing too much on quantity versus quality.

“They say a lot of words but nothing meaningful.”

When it comes to impressing the Church, currently serving as the CEO of Continuum, a talent marketplace for executives, there’s one tactic that always succeeds. “The best candidates that I meet, I’m always learning something from them,” he says. “And those are the people I want to work with.”

‘It was like a masterclass’

Church gives the example of interviewing a chief revenue officer while working at the equity management platform Carta.

At the time, he was keen to learn how to grow a business-to-business, software-as-a-service company. When it came up during the interview, the job candidate “gave me a full breakdown on how he would take our business from zero to one” in that respect, Church says. “It was like a masterclass.”

That’s the kind of learning he values ​​most as a recruiter.

Ask, ‘can I tell you a quick story?’

When it comes to teaching your interviewer something during the interview process, the Church will encourage job seekers not to force it. If there’s an opportunity, let it come up naturally, when the interviewer asks you a question about your experience, for example.

You can do this by saying something like, “can I tell you a quick story about what I learned in my last role?” he says. Then tackle it using the following framework:

  1. Set the context for the story.
  2. Describe the preconceived notion or assumption you had before learning your lesson.
  3. Explain what you learned or how you acquired your unique insight.
  4. Details how that learning and unique insight applies to your work today.

“No. 2 and No. 3 are where the best candidates shine,” he says, “because they show a growth mindset and a dose of humility.”

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