Hiring Manager Perspective on Technology Interviews
Many candidates have never been in the interviewer chair I’m hoping to share a different perspective with candidates so they can prepare accordingly and it can act as a guide to hiring managers.
Technology interviews should be conducted with the approach to bring the best out of the candidate and ensure they have a pleasant experience. Seek out reasons to hire rather than reject. A successful interview is being able to make the determination to proceed or not and that the candidate would reapply at your company.
How to Conduct a Successful Interview
There is a balance to conducting successful interviews, each topic is similar to a wave coming onto the sand, you are bringing the topic as far as it can go and then it quickly recedes and the next question begins.
- Ensure they have a drink and breaks between rounds.
- If they have reached the limit of their knowledge move along quickly.
- If they are over-answering, interrupt and move them along.
- If they are diverging off track, interrupt and refocus them.
If at the end of the interview you can determine to proceed or stop, then you have been successful. If you do not feel its a definite yes, then its a no. Keep your focus during the interview on this final decision.
Before the interviews begins the hiring manager has determined the minimum baseline technology skills to fill the role. This is done by creating a list of the technical skillset of the existing team and reducing this list down to the fundamentals. The final list should consist of skills that take a long time to learn, or require a strong aptitude to ever do well in, for example software programming, cloud technologies. From this list a selection of standard interview questions is prepared covering the skills and competencies and these will be asked to each and every candidate for that position to allow easy comparisons.
The next step is determining whom is on the interview panel for each round. The panel will ideally consist of trained interviewers, either formally and/or on the job training has occurred. The open position guides the choices and interviews should be used as a training opportunity for new interviewers, by pairing them with a more experienced partner. A senior from the team is always required on the panel and will give a verbal technical interview. The interview panel should reflect diversity, it can be an important part of a candidates decision that similar people to them work at your company.
A technical test will be setup using hackerrank/leetcode or in person white-boarding. The technical tests should be designed to demonstrate basic ability and problem solving.
The process for post interview debriefs will be determined – Debriefs will be held after all interviews complete on the same day or closest next day that can be arranged with all the panel. Panel members will submit in writing their interview notes prior to the debrief, this focuses their mind during the interview and on the hire/no-hire decision.
For distributed interview teams, an additional group/channel in an instant messaging tool will be utilised to keep track of all the candidates progress through the pipeline.
-> Technical test
-> Round n
-> Round m
Screening Interview Round
At this point there is enough on the c.v. of interest to proceed to a call. The goal of this interview is to have determined if the candidate will work well as a team member and has sufficient baseline skillset to carry on to the next rounds.
The call begins with introductions and an explanation of the role and then proceeds to warmup questions to assist the candidate get over any nerves. For example “What do you know about the company”, “What interested you in this role to cause you to apply”, “Please take me through your c.v.”. Then “Why are you seeking a new role?”, “What would keep you in your existing role?”
The interview then moves onto the prepared standard set of questions cover the basic skillset of the role, going from simple questions in a particular skill and drilling deeper and deeper until its can be determined the candidate tap out level, then quickly moving onto the next question.
If the candidate has anything of particular interest on their resume then that can be probed too.
The candidate needs to be given time to ask questions near the end and interviewers should ensure to sell the role and company to the candidate to maintain their interest.
A link to the coding test will be sent to successful candidates. The coding test difficulty is adjusted depending on the seniority of the position and should consist of no more than what can be completed in 90mins. Once again, it shouldn’t be unpleasant, the questions should be straightforward and using the internet to search for hints is expected, but full plagiarism will not be accepted. These tools check for that automatically. It doesn’t matter if candidate successfully completes the challenge or not, its enough they made a good attempt, unless you have some specialised research you are hiring them for.
Further Rounds (Behavioural & Potential)
The next rounds are looking at technical and/or behaviours (collaboration, communication, conflict, technical etc…), (hint: candidates should read up on the STAR interview method) and company values.
The technical questioning will drill deeper into the technologies listed on the resume. For example if you list kubernetes, then be prepared to answer questions from its architecture, logging, debugging, networking, RBAC, operators etc… same for any other technologies you are claiming to know, it reflects poorly on a candidate if they go into a interview after using a narrow slice of a technology and not understand the bigger picture.
Prep Prep Prep!
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