Interview Flow

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TLDR

🎤 Interview Structure

💡 Interview Tips

I'm delighted that you'll be joining me on The SaaS Podcast!

I have two key goals for this interview:

  1. Share your story
  2. Share valuable lessons & insights

⏱ TLDR

  • The target audience are early-stage SaaS founders < $5M ARR
  • We'll do a quick 10-15 minute ‘pre-interview' before we start recording
  • This will be a video interview and we'll record for around 45 minutes
  • The interview has 5 segments but we'll adapt based on the conversation:
    • 1. Introduction: Share an inspirational quote + your “elevator pitch”
    • 2. First 10 Customers: How you went from idea to the first 10 customers
    • 3. Business Growth: Marketing/sales strategies that helped you grow
    • 4. Business Lessons: One or two big mistakes and lessons learned
    • 5. Lightning Round: 7 ‘quick fire' questions to close the interview
  • Scan the “Actions for You” boxes below so you're better prepared
  • Stories are boring without conflicts, struggles, or failures
  • Behind every mistake/challenge, there's a lesson worth learning/sharing
  • Our best interviews get listeners to press pause so they can make notes! So share lessons you wish you'd known in the early stages of your business
  • Audio quality is super-important so please follow these tips:
    • Use headphones or earbuds to reduce echo sound problems
    • Use a decent microphone, or wired headset mic or your computer mic
    • Please DON'T use AirPods as your microphone. They're great for listening to music and making calls, but they're not great for recording podcasts
  • Video quality is also important (but not as important as the audio quality):
    • Lighting is critical, so sit facing a light source e.g. a window or lamp
    • Natural light is great or consider buying an LED light panel (< $100)
    • Position the webcam at an arms distance and keep yourself in center

🎤 Interview Structure

1. Introduction

I record the episode introduction after we've done the interview. So when we start recording, I'll welcome you and ask you the following:

  • Inspirational Quote: I'll ask you for an inspiring or motivational quote. If you're not a ‘quotes person' feel free to share what drives you in your own words.
  • Elevator Pitch: I'll ask you explain what your product does (in simple terms), who it's for (target customer), and what problem it solves.
  • Differentiator: I'll ask you to tell our audience how your product is better or different to the alternatives available to your target customers.
  • Business Metrics: I'll ask you to give our audience a sense of the size of your business i.e. revenue, number of customers, team size etc.

✅ ACTIONS FOR YOU

1. Success Quote: Please have a favorite quote ready or be prepared to talk about what motivates you to work on your business in your own words.

2. Elevator Pitch: Please be ready to provide a 60-second ‘elevator pitch' about your product and business, as well as your key differentiators and business metrics you can share.

2. First 10 Customers

In this segment, we'll explore how you went from zero to your early customers e.g.

  • How did you come up with the idea?
  • Did you validate your idea? If so, how did you do that? If not, why not?
  • How did you go about building your initial product?
  • How did you find your early e.g. first 10 customers?
  • What do you wish had known before you started?

✅ ACTIONS FOR YOU

1. Mistakes and Lessons: Please have 1 or 2 good examples of mistakes you made in the early days and what you learned from those experiences.

3. Business Growth

In this segment, we'll explore how you grew your business e.g.

  • How did you get to 100 or 1000 customers (whichever is most relevant)?
  • What marketing channels worked well and which ones failed miserably?
  • What lessons did you learn from these experiences?

✅ ACTIONS FOR YOU

1. Growth Lessons: Please be prepared with the top 3-5 growth strategies and tactics you believe helped you grow (and one or two that failed miserably but taught you important lessons). For example, your growth strategies and tactics might be:

  • Content Marketing/Blog
  • Cold Email Outreach
  • Word of Mouth/Referrals
  • Google Ads (failed miserably)
We'll do a deep-dive and share as some actionable insights as possible.

4. Business Lessons

In this segment, we'll explore general business lessons e.g.

  • Did you bootstrap the business or raise funding?
  • What were the challenges you faced because of that decision?
  • How did you figure out your ideal target market?
  • How did you figure out what to charge for your product?
  • Examples of rejections you faced and how you overcame them etc.

✅ ACTIONS FOR YOU

1. Mistakes and Lessons: Please have 1 or 2 good examples of business mistakes you made and most importantly the lessons you learned.

5. 'Lightning' Round

We'll wrap up with the following 7 ‘quick-fire' questions:

  1. What's the best piece of business advice you ever received?
  2. What book would you recommend to our audience and why?
  3. What's one attribute or characteristic of a successful founder?
  4. What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?
  5. What's a new/crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had time?
  6. What's an interesting or fun fact about you most people don't know?
  7. What's one of your most important passions outside of work?

✅ ACTIONS FOR YOU

1. Lightning Round Questions: Please be prepared to answer these questions.

💡 Interview Tips

1. How to avoid telling boring stories

Imagine if Luke Skywalker had learned to master the force without any struggle or challenges, and had defeated Darth Vader without making any mistakes. It would have been a very boring story.

From Pixar's 22 rules to phenomenal storytelling | Image Source

Every great story has lots of obstacles for the hero that create conflict, struggles, challenges, and fears. And often there comes a point where it seems like there is no path to success e.g. running out of money, having 3 failed startups etc.

And within the ‘big story' there are smaller struggles which are sometimes internal (mindset e.g. imposter's syndrome) or external (environment e.g. getting rejected by every investor you pitch to).

Everyone's got a great story and we need to tell yours in a compelling way.

Source: Shane Hanlon

2. How to make your interview memorable

After doing over 300 interviews, I can tell you the best interviews are the ones where people tell me “I had to keep pulling over my car to make notes!”

You don't need to provide amazing or mind-blowing insights that the world hasn't heard before to have the same effect. Instead you just need to share the lessons and advice you wish someone had given you in the early stages of your business.

So whatever stage your business is at, there are other founders who are still not there yet. Whatever you can genuinely share with them (mistakes to avoid, tactics to try, inspirational advice etc.) will get them pulling over too to make notes.

And always be specific by providing examples vs. general ‘hand wavy' advice i.e. instead of saying “raising money is hard and you have to do X, Y or Z to succeed” make it ‘real' with concrete examples using this framework:

  1. Situation: Briefly describe the background to a specific example
  2. Challenge: Explain the challenge or issue that you were faced with
  3. Struggles: Talk about all the ways you tried to solve that challenge
  4. Result: Explain how you finally solved it and what you learned

3. Good video and GREAT audio are essential

Audio quality is super-important so please follow these tips:

  • Use headphones or earbuds to reduce echo sound problems
  • Use a good microphone, or wired headset mic, or your computer mic
  • Please DON'T use AirPods as your microphone. They're great for listening to music and making calls, but they're not great for recording podcasts

Video quality is also important (but not as important as the audio quality):

  • Lighting is critical so sit facing a light source e.g. a window or lamp
  • Position the webcam at an arms distance and keep yourself in center
  • Here's a video with some great tips on lighting which will be handy not just for this interview but all your Zoom meetings too. 🙂
  • You don't need to spend any money to have decent lighting, but if you want to invest in an LED light here are some great recommendations.