The Art of The 15 Minute Interview

If you’re thinking about building a team, the hiring process can be long, tedious and stressful. Take the hassle out of it by employing the “15 minute interview” process!

The Art of the 15 Minute Interview

I write our own job ads. (If you want to see one of our job ads, go to travisrobertson.com/careers.) And in our job ads, I inject humor and fun. I make jokes, and I write sentences like they’re in text message. I make them fun, because that’s our culture. We have fun. I love what I do and I want people who walk in to love what they do.

Then what I do is I tell them specifically how to apply. At the bottom of our job ads, it says “How to Apply for This Position” and it tells them step-by-step. It says something like “send your resume in .pdf format. Not word. Don’t paste it into the body of the email. Send it to this email address with this subject line, your resume attached in .pdf format and include a paragraph explaining why you want to be a part of our team.

Now here’s what’s awesome: I have a filter set up so that if they do not use that subject line, it goes straight to trash. If their resume is not in .pdf format, it goes straight to trash. I don’t respond to them, I don’t answer them, and nobody on my team does.

Because they can’t follow instructions. If they can’t follow instructions to apply for a position, do you think they’re going to be a great team member? They are just going to buck the system entirely. So I make them follow very specific instructions.

The 15 Minute Interview

Now everybody who I get on the phone with, here’s what I have someone do. I have somebody on my team schedule back-to-back interviews. 15 minutes long max.  No breaks, no space. Why? Because I’m a talker and I will talk. I will sell you into a position that you are a terrible fit for. I love my company.

How many of you love your company and would sell it to anybody? You find yourself on interviews selling people on why they need to come work for you. You’re like “we are so awesome! It’s absolutely amazing! You totally want to work for us!” And they don’t say anything. And you think it’s great! Then you hire them and you realize you know nothing about them because you sold them on the position and they suck.

This happens over and over. So what I do is I get them on the phone. 15-minute interviews, back to back to back.

10 Minutes of Asking

Spend 10 minutes asking them questions. People are always like “a 15 minute interview?! How do you justify that?!” Here’s what I say: “I know this is a little unorthodox, but we’ve had such a high response rate to this position ad and I’m so excited to be talking to you, but here’s the thing, I don’t want to waste your time and I don’t want to waste my time. So we’re going to spend a few minutes and I’m just going to get to know you a little bit and make sure it’s worth investing your time and mine into this full process. Does that sound fair?” And they will agree that that sounds fair.

You say “great. By the way, the first 10 minutes, I’m going to ask you questions. And then in the last 5 minutes, you can ask me anything you want.” So spend the first 10 minutes asking them questions. These don’t have to be hardball questions, but then you shut up. You do not try to sell them. You just ask them questions. Don’t be buddy-buddy. You’re not trying to build rapport. You’re just trying to see if you like them.

And here’s the thing: I will hang up on people that I do not like. No joke. You want to know the best question to ask? I stumbled onto this question and it works. One time, I was talking to a guy and I asked him “what about the job ad made you want to apply for the position?” Do you know what he said to me? “Um….which position is this for again?” I was like “you’re an idiot.” Actually, I didn’t say that but I did say “I wish you the best of luck, but you’re obviously not cut out for this position. Have a wonderful day, I don’t want to waste any more of your time or mine.” And hung up on him. He called back to my admin that had scheduled that appointment and started swearing and yelling at her. And so I called him back and I said, “you just proved why you’re an idiot and why you’re not working here. You think my interview process sucks? It just weeded you out. I think it’s great!

So you ask them “what about the ad caused you to apply for the position?” And what I want to hear is them go “oh my gosh! I love the humor. You talked about how amazing your company is and how you change lives and how you help people and save their relationships and businesses. I want to be a part of that!That’s what I want to hear.

5 Minutes of Answering

Allow 5 minutes at the very end for them to ask you questions. This is so fun. But there’s some danger responses or danger questions you want to be aware of. So this is when you open it up for the 5-minute questions. So you say to people “okay. We’ve finished the first 10 minutes and I’ve asked you all the questions.” And if you still like them, you hang out for the next 5 minutes.

You say “so now’s your turn to ask me anything you want. I can’t promise I will answer everything, but you can ask me anything you want.” If they ask or say any of these things, do not pass go. Immediately send them to jail. Do not pass go. You do not want to talk to these people any more.

Number one is this: how many leads will I get? If that is the first question out of their mouth, hang up on them. Why? Because they don’t want to know anything about the position. All they want to know is what’s in it for them. They’re focused on the wrong thing.

Number two is this: what is the split?

And number three: how much money can I make?

These three are absolute red flags. If those are the first questions out of their mouth, any one of those, do not pass go. You know what I want to hear them say? “Hey, tell me about what I’ll be doing. Can you tell me a little bit about your team? What’s your culture like? What will I be responsible for every day? How are we going to measure success of the position? What’s a typical day look like for one of your buyer’s specialists? What’s a typical day look like for your marketing coordinator? What am I going to be doing on a daily basis?”

Because now I know that they are in it for the work. They want to do something that they’re passionate about and they care about what they do, not just how much money they make. Not just how many leads they get. Not just what the split is. If any of those three things come out of their mouth in the first question, they’re done.

Number four is this: I can’t work nights and weekends. You say, “you do realize what industry we’re in, right? And you do realize that I’m not working nights and weekends, so you know who is? You! If you don’t want to work nights and weekends, go start a team! Go build your own business! But in my business, you’ve got to be available some nights and some weekends. Not every night and not every weekend. I respect your family and I respect your life, but in order for me to do what I want to do, you’ve got to be able to do some of these things and we’ll rotate it. We’re going to build the team in such a way that you’re not going to be on every night. You’re going to have set nights and you’re going to have a set schedule that you can predict. You’re not going to have to work every weekend, but you’re going to have to work some nights and some weekends in this business for a period of time. Now as you get better at explaining and you get better at selling, you can convince people to never meet with you on a night or a weekend. Great, you’re free to do that. But until then, you’re going to work some nights and you’re going to work some weekends.

And number five: I don’t really have any questions. If they say they don’t have questions, to me, I’m like “I just spent 10 minutes asking you questions and you couldn’t think of one thing to ask me? Because the job ad didn’t say everything.” It means they are intellectually stupid. It’s true.

They are not inquisitive, they’re not smart, and they’re not thinkers. Can you imagine that person going to meet with a client?  They didn’t do any research on you. Look, I’m highly Googlable. You can Google me very easily. Anybody who’s interviewing with me ought to have some questions for me. They ought to say, “yeah, I saw some of your videos. I watched this or that. I heard about you this way. An agent in my office did your training.” They ought to know who I am.

If they go “yeah…tell me about what you do…Did you not Google me? Did you not Google the company? Are you that intellectually vapid? Do you have nothing going on upstairs that you couldn’t even just go to Google and type in Travis Robertson?

It’s very easy to find me. It’s very easy to learn a little bit about the company. They should be able to Google you and go “yeah…_____________…tell me about him/her.” That way they can come with armed questions ready to ask you.

How do they sound?

By the way, if I don’t like the way they sound on the phone, I’ve hung up on people by the way they answer the phone. They know I’m calling at a set time. One guy answered the phone and sounded like he just rolled out of bed. It was 11 am. He’s supposed to be a phone sales rep. I said “sorry, wrong number.” and I hung up on him.

I’m not wasting my time on hiring people who can’t sell me in 15 minutes. They have 15 minutes to make me like them. If they can’t do that, they’re not going to be able to sell anybody on the phone.

If they sound like a smoker and that’s not your style, don’t talk to them. You want to make sure that they fit your culture, your brand, your everything and if they don’t, you get them off that line as fast as possible. You do not owe them 15 minutes. You don’t owe them anything. So you allow 5 minutes for them to ask questions and you hang up politely. Don’t be a jerk. (Usually). Hang up on them politely and move on.

But that’s it. This is the process we use in my business and this 15-minute interview will save your life.

About the Author

  • Dana Stroud

    I would love to have an interview with you to see if I would pass your test!!! I love this video.

    • HAHA! You would 100% pass this test, Dana! And if Rich and Sue ever treat you poorly, you just let me know. 😉

      • Dana Stroud

        You got it!!!

  • Tony

    You would not hire someone simply because they “sound like a smoker”? For all you know, they just have a raspy voice. This is why i want to start my own business. I don’t want to have to go through this demeaning process of having to pretend to be this perfect member of society simply to be able to work for someone else.