In a unique interview that left Uber’s Chief Technology Officer Thuan Pham exhausted, CEO Travis Kalanick called him everyday for two weeks straight.
On their first day when Pham, who was formerly an executive at VMware, met Kalanick, their one hour meeting had turned into two hours.
According to Pham, Kalanick is nothing short of intense, and thus their interview had turned into a two-week straight phone marathon.
The pair in that course of time spent as much as 30 hours, talking one-on-one over Skype. Pham explained that Kalanick would send him him a photo of a list of topics he wanted to talk about, and then the two would get on a Skype call and go through all of it. Phan said
“We’d pick each topic and drill all the way down. One topic could be how to hire and fire people. Another was about project management and engineering management…I had my view and he had his, and because he’s an engineer by training as well, we just jammed like that.”
On the positive side, Phan said that the 30 hours of grilling questions felt less like an interview to him and rather more like a discussion between two colleagues.
Remembering one of his Skype calls, Phan recalled how Kalanick had just stopped talking and switched the discussion to offers. He said:
“It dawned on me afterward that he wasn’t looking for someone that shared his view – he was looking for diversity of thought, someone who could challenge him and who he could challenge.”
The 30 hour long ‘interrogation’ thankfully worked and the deal with Phan was sealed.
Phan recalled how the final deal to hire him just took Kalanick 30 minutes, plus an hour to make some calls. Since his arrival, the company has grown the engineering team from 40 people to 1,200 in just three years. To Pham
“everything moves super fast at Uber” and once they decide to do something, they just “lean in.”