The CEO of the 'Costco for millennials' asks every potential hire 3 questions to weed out the jerks

chieh huang boxed


Boxed cofounder and CEO Chieh Huang.

  • Boxed CEO and cofounder Chieh Huang interviews every job candidate personally, and says he asks them three questions to make sure they're not jerks.
  • The questions are meant to test whether a job candidate is curious, open, and can hold a conversation, and to find out how arrogant they are, Huang told the TED blog.
  • Huang said the interview is important because people often end up spending more time with their coworkers than their families and friends.

Before you can work at Boxed, the online retailer that raised $111 million last year, you'll have to pass CEO Chieh Huang's test.

Huang said he personally interviews every potential hire for the company, making him the "last line of defense" for the company. Advertisement

"The last thing you need is someone with a huge ego and that's super smart but that's just a complete a--hole," Huang said at last year's Iconic conference, hosted by CNBC and Inc. "I still heavily screen for that."

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Huang told Amanda Miller at the TED blog that during his 15- to 30-minute interviews with potential hires, he asks three questions to determine if they'd be a good fit:

For example, if the person begins talking about experiences with travel or food, Huang will ask follow-ups like "What's the best or worst trip you've ever taken?" or "What's the best or worst food you've ever eaten?"Advertisement

Next, Huang asks candidates "a 'thought-provoking' query to test how candidates think on the spot," the TED blog reported. Huang said he changes up the actual questions in this round, but he likes to choose ones that have no correct answer, like "Which country will be the first to make it illegal for humans to drive cars? And what year do you think it will happen?"

With this question, it doesn't matter so much what a candidate's answer is, but how they come up with it. Huang said he wants candidates to really think about the answer and not simply blurt out the first thing they think of. Do they really consider the premise of the question and "go one level deeper" about its implications, or do they freeze up and say "I don't know"?

Read more: Boxed, the 'Costco for millennials,' just got supercharged by the Walmart of JapanAdvertisement

Lastly, Huang tells candidates to "rate your knowledge of technology trends on a scale of 1 to 10." This question screens out people who may think a little too highly of themselves - Huang says anyone who rates themselves a 9 or 10 get "an instant red flag."

The way Huang sees it, the tech industry is changing way too rapidly for anyone to really consider themselves an expert, and "folks who feel like they know everything are generally condescending to the people around them."

Huang said his three-question test is worth the trouble for himself and his fellow Boxed employees.Advertisement

Read the full interview at TED »