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Alex Voerman
Alex Voerman

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How to conduct a terrible technical interview

Your company is hiring and has entrusted you to give technical interviews to potential candidates! Here are some of my tips to ensure it goes as terribly as possible.

⏲️ Show up a late and do absolutely no research of the candidate beforehand.

Give you and your company a bad first impression by showing up to the interview flustered and unprepared. What better way to showcase your company doesn't have it all together than to show up late, without having read anything about the candidate? Make sure you ignore the candidate's cool past projects and relevant skills that are clearly highlighted in their resume. Do not come prepared to ask questions tailored to their past experiences.

🧮 Ask questions unrelated to the position. Focus mostly on algorithms / stumping the candidate.

Why ask about relevant work experiences that pertain to the job when you can watch them squirm answering a complex algorithm question. Are you interviewing the candidate to fill a front-end JavaScript position? If yes, it would be perfect to have the candidate whiteboard an algorithm for a binary search tree and ask about the complexity of their solution. If they ask if it's common to run into a problem like that at your company, say no, "we just want to see how you think." You should see how a candidate thinks through a tough problem unrelated to their job instead of a tough problem directly applicable to what they'll be doing on a day to day basis. Pretend your company has thousands of applicants and interview like you work for a silicon valley giant.

👨‍💻 Interview for pure technical ability and not general culture fit

Spend 100% of the interview asking only technical questions. Do not find out what motivates the candidate or if they'll fit in with your company. It's important to ignore any soft skills and any red flags that might indicate the candidate would be a toxic or difficult person to work with. Questions like "what sort of technologies or frameworks are you interested in learning" or "how do you approach learning new tech on the fly" should be completely off the table.

🛣️ Make sure the conversation is a one-way-street

Ideally, you should have zero back-and-forth conversations with the candidate. You should ask a question (bonus points if it's written down and read verbatim) and they should answer it like a test question. The answers should be either right or wrong with no grey area. Do not ask any opinion questions, or questions that will highlight the candidate's outside-the-box problem solving. Do not follow up with any of the candidates answers and if they're struggling with a question, simply move on to the next question without leading them to an acceptable answer. Remember, interviews should be painful for you and the candidate, and at no point should anyone learn anything from an interview.

❔ Either don't allow time for questions at the end, or give dishonest answers to the candidates questions

Hopefully you showed up late to the interview and have limited time for the candidate to ask questions. They can always shoot questions back over to the recruiter instead of getting them answered directly from a peer they'll most likely be working with. Hide as much as you can about your company, and be dishonest. You should be as vague as possible when answering questions, and definitely do not share your own experiences with the company.

If you follow these tips, you should end up with a candidate that you know little about, yet also doesn't want to work with you or for your company. This should result in lots of wasted time for you and the candidate. Hope these tips help next time you want to give a terrible interview!

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