What I’m sharing here is nothing scientific. There has not been extensive research done on the subject and will probably be useful only to entrepreneurs, marketers and maybe a few crazy bosses.

I would fit all categories.

Here is the problem I have in doing interviews: I automatically assume everyone is very nice, honest and hard working.

This is mitigated through multiple rounds of interviews with more team members.

What I look for more then anything, is the compatibility.

Again, if you are an entrepreneur, marketer and a little crazy, this means you will have an interesting work style. Your revenues might be growing rapidly. New tools and strategies require you to pivot often. You need someone who is fit for dealing with everyday stresses.

A good start is to have your candidate complete a personality assessment. I’ve used it many times. What this test will not show you is behaviour until high stress.

…And this is where my interview test is golden.

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What you do:

  • Observe your candidate complete a task during 5 minutes.
  • As the interviewer, you will not speak or give further instructions during those 5 minutes.
    Encourage them to comment on their thought process throughout.

What you will need:

  • In Room Interviews: You will need a laptop with internet access.
  • Virtual Interviews: Make sure you do it over Skype, or any other screen sharing conference application (Appear.in, GoToMeeting, Google hangouts).
  • 5-minute timer.

Tell the candidate the following:

I will give you a task to complete. Use any means necessary to complete it. I will not speak once you start and I encourage you to share your thought patterns during the test.

When they are ready… you share a link to Minesweeper. Set it to intermediate difficulty and tell them “go”. (I use play-minesweeper.com – just search Google for any.)

The amount of data you will gather is brilliant.

  • You will see how they handle a task they do not understand.
  • You will see if they are going to try to figure it out themselves.
  • You will see if they prefer to fail fast to learn, or if they click the “help” button to understand the rules.
  • You will see if they Google to search “how to beat minesweeper”.
  • You will see if they completely reject the task given because they do not understand it.

I firmly believe that how you do anything is how you do everything.

You will be amazed to see them deal with a range of emotions under pressure. It is not about being able to complete the task or not. It is about how they react to your instructions under pressure.

  • If you expect them to figure things out on their own, look for the behaviour.
  • If you need someone who is resourceful, look for the behaviour.
  • If you need someone who will manage your workflow and not complete tasks unless it contributes massively to business growth, you can look for the behavior.

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I know one of the early candidates I interviewed with this test saved me from a big mistake. She was smart, talented and had experience. When she did the test, she showed the following task completion path:

0:00 – 0:10 – Confusion
0:10 – 0:20 – Attempt to get clarification from me, I did not speak
0:20 – 0:40 – First attempt – more confusion
0:40 – 2:00 – Fail fast. Tries to understand pattern
2:00 – 3:00 – First assumption: It’s a memory game, attempts to remember where all the mines are
3:00 – 3:15 – Realises the mines changed location.  Frustration and quick pivot to see what the numbers mean.
3:15 – 4:45 – Stressed about time running out and tried a few more times with no solid concept of how the game works.
4:45 – 5:00 – Makes an loose assumption about the numbers correlating to bomb placements

Interesting…

She did not click the help button.

I immediately told her feedback from the test. She was an “I do everything myself” hustler. Need a design done? Does it herself. Needs a website? Done. Traffic and Advertising? Figures it out.

But rarely asks for help and it’s difficult for her to delegate.

She was stunned by the accuracy. From a minesweeper game.

I remember this candidate more than others because she did get hired after all. Just not on my team. She was the exact same personality type as me. And I didn’t need a twin, I needed someone who complimented my weaknesses.

The test is so simple, very fun and gives you lots of insights. If you use it, post in the comments how your candidate reacted and what insights did you gain.

Oh, and one last thing. If the candidate knows how to play minesweeper and completes the game in under 999 seconds…

Hire instantly. (Just kidding… sort of)

This was my score while writing this article:

Minsweeper test

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