Reference Checking and Personality Assessments with Investor Graham Duncan

22 Sep 2023 • 51 min • EN
51 min
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Graham Duncan (@GrahamDuncanNYC) is a longtime investor and author of a legendary essay on reference checking: He was interviewed by Village Global co-founder and partner Ben Casnocha (@bencasnocha) during a special masterclass for Village Global founders and friends of the firm. Takeaways: - Be aware of how your own mindset and mood affects your analysis of a candidate as well as how it impacts how the candidate shows up in the interview. For example, you might be anxious and stressed yourself and that makes the candidate nervous — you may end up experiencing them as nervous, but in fact you are the one that has created that dynamic in the interview. - Ask the candidate: “If you were hiring someone to fill this role, what criteria would you use?” When someone is particularly good, they are skilled at capturing the essence of what makes someone good at it. This also lets you see how they respond without initial priming and framing. - The ideal reference check call should take longer than you might think (e.g. 45+ mins). You sometimes need to wear them down over a long period of time before they open up about their real concerns. - If you aren’t aware of or can’t imagine the downside of working with this person, you haven’t done enough reference checking. - Ask: “How strong is your endorsement of Jane on a scale of 1-10? (If they answer 7, say actually sorry 7s are not allowed, 6 or 8? If the answer is an 8, ‘What is in that two points?’)” - When someone comes from a prestigious company, we often fail to control for the weight that the reputation of the company carries when we form our impression of them. Thanks for listening — if you like what you hear, please review us on your favorite podcast platform. Check us out on the web at or get in touch with us on Twitter @villageglobal. Want to get updates from us? Subscribe to get a peek inside the Village. We’ll send you reading recommendations, exclusive event invites, and commentary on the latest happenings in Silicon Valley.

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