Why a CEO channels his 'inner 4-year-old' during job interviews

Recruitment is no child’s game, but one CEO still opts for a youthful approach when he screens candidates.

Joshua Reeves is the CEO and Co-Founder of Gusto, an online payroll, benefits and workers’ compensation firm. The New York Times recently asked him about how he interviews jobseekers.

Reeves answered that firstly he looks for “value alignment" and “shared motivation”.

“And for the interviews, I kind of channel my inner 4-year-old, and I ask a lot of ‘why’ questions,” he continued. “My interview with any candidate is not about skills or work experience. It’s about the thought process someone went through at meaningful points in their life, like the choice to go to a specific school or to leave or join a company.

“If you keep asking ‘why’, you’ll get to the meat of it, which is when someone leaves behind trying to think about the right answer, and you get to questions about purpose, and what motivates you.”

By continuously asking candidates ‘why’, Reeves argued that he could find out if they are motivated by more than just monetary rewards. He believed that it was a good thing if they were, as money “does not equal happiness, as people can attest to time and time again.”

He added: “I also like to get out of the building for interviews. I like to go on a walk. I like to go to the park, sit on a bench and talk about life.”

Reeves is not alone in opting to leave the office to conduct job interviews. In fact, one CEO takes candidates out for breakfast and secretly tells waiters to ruin their meal, in order to see how jobseekers react.

However, Reeves' comment on gauging candidates for cultural fit may be important too. Tom Marsden, CEO at people analytics company Saberr recently told Executive Grapevine that companies who don’t assess for cultural fit and soft skills could lose both productivity and staff

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