Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How Do I Video Interview…Former Entrepreneurs?

Every candidate comes with their own set of unique interviewing challenges. That’s why we’re tackling how to video interview different types of candidates with this how-to series. Today we’ll be talking about how to use video interviews to connect with candidates who have an entrepreneurial spirit. These former entrepreneurs have big ideas to share, but how do you know they’re ready to jump into a more traditional corporate setting?

There are plenty of reasons why companies would be foolish not to consider former entrepreneurs for open positions. Those with the entrepreneurial spirit have proven they have big ideas and aren’t afraid to go after them. They’ve demonstrated hard work, determination and self-sufficiency. Whatever their former business venture, it’s also a good bet they have some technical know-how and industry-specific skills under their belts. Plus, you don’t have to worry about holding the hand of former entrepreneurs, because you know they are self-motivated and good at working independently.

With all these positives in their favor you might be wondering why you should even hesitate. Why not just make the offer at the end of the video interview? What is there to worry about?

While former entrepreneurs can make for great candidates, like any other applicant they have their share of weaknesses as well as strengths. The video interview is the time to really connect with these candidates and see if they’ll become your next self-motivated superstar employee or the wildcard worker no one wants to collaborate with.

Here are a few things you should make sure you touch on in the video interview when considering former entrepreneurs:

Are they ready to follow instead of lead?
One of the most striking attributes of entrepreneurs is that these candidates are leaders. They had an idea and didn’t just wait for someone else to act on it. They moved forward by themselves and made a company, product or service based on their stroke of genius. In some cases, they might have led a company or managed other workers.

So unless you’re hiring for a CEO role, it’s important to make sure this talented go-getter is willing to follow as well as lead. As the head of their own company, they might have been in charge of every decision. As a worker in your organization, this entrepreneurial candidate will occasionally have to take a backseat and let someone else do the driving.

This might not be a problem though. Perhaps the reason they’re looking at your position is because they’re tired of having the buck stop at their front door. But if they can’t let go of their leadership position, this could spell trouble.

In the video interview, ask for examples of times they’ve both led and followed. Make sure to stress your company is a place where they will have to give up some control in order to work with others and achieve goals they won’t always be able to set themselves. Listen carefully to their answers. If following seems to be a problem, this entrepreneurial candidate might not be right for the job.

How well do they work with others?
Tying into the above point, it’s important your candidate is able to work with others in a group setting. Collaboration between workers and departments is important in most companies and roles. You want an employee who will work well with others in a team and take the advice and guidance of fellow workers.

In the video interview, ask for examples of times the candidate has worked in a team environment before. Listen carefully to their answer, because the candidate can accidentally tell you a lot about their personality in the way they describe their teamwork experiences. If the entrepreneurial candidate talks about what a great experience working in a team was, it’s certainly a good sign.

A bad sign is if the candidate starts shifting blame onto teammates for the failure of a project or likewise taking entire credit for the success of an enterprise. It’s a good bet this person will become an employee no one else in the company will want to work with.

Will they play by your company’s rules?
As an entrepreneur, it’s likely this person set the standards at their last company and played by their own rules. But they’re not in charge anymore and it can be hard for some to adjust. Now they’ll have a set schedule, meaning they can’t just show up or take off whenever they want. They might need to listen to an HR department or even conform to a dress code.

The video interview is the perfect opportunity to see how comfortable entrepreneurial candidates are with following a new set of rules. Explain as plainly as possible the rulebook of the organization, and ask if any of these guidelines will be a problem. Make sure you stress to the potential employee that breakdowns in protocol can be grounds for dismissal. If the candidate starts fighting back on some of these guidelines already in the video interview, chances are it will become an even more serious problem once they get into the office.

Former entrepreneurs can make for excellent and creative hires. Use the video interview in order to make sure these candidates will be able to make the transition from smart boss to superstar employee.

What are some ways you can connect with former entrepreneurs in the video interview? Share in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Tom Chance.

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).