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Discussion on: What's your ideal interview process?

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ryansmith profile image
Ryan Smith • Edited

I would want it to be efficient, casual, practical, and humane (I'm sad that I have to add that):

  • The interview process is outlined at the start. The company lets candidates prepare based on that. Every company is different and blindsiding candidates leads to a bad outcome for the candidate and the company.
  • Combine the recruiter screen with a technical screen. Talk about the recruiter stuff: the company, what they are looking for, what the candidate is looking for, etc. Then some casual open-ended technical questions about what they have done to get a feel for the candidate's technical ability and personality. It also confirms that their resume is an accurate representation of the person. That saves a step and gives the company and candidate more to go on as to if they want to move on.
  • A technical interview should be a few easy, close to real-world scenarios in the programming language they are interviewing for. Walk the interviewers through your thoughts on solving it or how you would go about confirming your guesses. Keep the discussion a little higher level, being right isn't that important, being able to troubleshoot and explain to others is all that is needed for most jobs. Interviewers should chat with the candidate by providing the right hint or a positive response if they liked the answer, not sit there in silence waiting for the candidate to solve it. Candidates are preparing for multiple interviews and it is stressful, they can't (and shouldn't) know everything. Closed-ended questions that you don't know or were not expecting with silent interviewers is a horrible experience.
  • Have kind people that can show empathy as your interviewers. A positive introduction and prepared interviewer will put the candidate at ease and help them perform better, which is good for the company.
  • Give the candidate time to ask questions at each stage of the interview process. Have the interviewers describe their experiences at the company. The candidate needs to know if they want to work there too.
  • Both sides should seek to answer some basic questions: can I work with this person, do they know how to solve problems? Companies tend to fixate on perfection or "the best candidate" far too much. A decent human-being that is intelligent, prepared, and is flexible with opinions/tradeoffs is a great candidate in my book. They can pick up particular skills or bits of knowledge on the job.
  • The interview process should reveal the company's values. I've been through some fairly rigorous interview processes but at the end of it, I wasn't sure what they were even looking for or trying to measure. Their job posting didn't line up with the recruiter or the interviewers. It seemed like a one-sided bombardment or an endurance test rather than an effective hiring process.
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sophia_wyl profile image
Sophia Li Author

Thanks for your thoughtful response! I'd love to hear more about what you mean by combining the recruiter screen with a technical screen.

Would the first call be maybe 30-45 mins? First starting off with 15-20 min of the company background, then the candidate background? And if it's a good fit on both ends, then they immediately move on to the technical screen for the rest of the time?

And would it be the same person interviewing (either the recruiter or swe)? Or switch from recruiter first, then swe? What kind of casual open-ended technical questions would be asked?

I could see this process speeding up hiring / decision making for both parties!

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ryansmith profile image
Ryan Smith

I think it would be an engineering manager that does the full screening and probably would last around 30 minutes. I think the open-ended questions could be things pulled directly from the candidate's resume such as "I see you have JavaScript listed here, how long have you been using it and what types of things have you worked on with it?" or "In your position as a tech lead, it says that you led a migration to React, tell me more about that. Maybe why you chose it, what were some challenges in transitioning, or anything else you learned." Hopefully, it would be more of a conversation with the manager talking about similar tools being used or similar problems being solved at the company to make it more of a two-way interview.

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sophia_wyl profile image
Sophia Li Author

Ah that makes sense. I like that approach and the open ended questions!