CEO of $600 million company Boxed asks this sneaky interview question to weed out jerks

Chieh Huang
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

As the founder and CEO of Boxed, the $600 million online warehouse retailer, Chieh Huang oversees hundreds of employees across the country. And when it turns out a new hire isn't meshing well with the rest of the team, Huang believes that a personality clash is typically the cause more often than poor performance.

In fact, Huang makes a point of trying to screen for jerks when he's interviewing potential new hires. "The last thing you need is someone with a huge ego and that's super smart but that's just a complete a--hole," Huang previously told CNBC.

Huang has a few interviewing tricks up his sleeve when it comes to weeding out potentially problematic personalities, he recently said in an interview with the TED blog.

One is that he asks job candidates to rate their own technology knowledge "on a scale of 1 to 10" and anyone who rates themselves too highly will cause the CEO to wonder if that person will be difficult to work with.

"It's OK if you're an expert in certain things, but to be an expert in technology? The reality is, the whole industry is shifting and no one knows what's going to happen in the next 10 years — no one," Huang says.

"Folks who feel like they know everything are generally condescending to the people around them."

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Huang also likes to ask "thought-provoking" questions during an interview in order to see if a candidate can think creatively on the spot.

In those cases, Huang likes to ask questions with no right or wrong answer — for instance, "Which country will be the first to make it illegal for humans to drive cars? And what year do you think it will happen?"

While that's a complicated question, there's only one response to that question that will cause Huang to sour on a job candidate, he says.

"The only wrong answer is when people freeze up and say, 'I don't know,'" Huang tells the TED.

Huang is looking for job candidates who take a beat to genuinely consider his question.

"The best answers have been from folks who think about it and say something like, 'If that's going to be the case, then every car sold there would have to be autonomous. Otherwise, how could you make it illegal?' They go one level deeper," Huang says.

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Chieh Huang
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
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