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Interviewing 101 for Game Closure

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  1. 1. Interviewing 101 Primer on interviewing basics
  2. 2. First, thanks. This is important.Interviewing is not your core job, but might be the most important thing youdo at Game Closure. Building a great team is incredibly vital to the long-termsuccess of the company and begins with your engagement with recruiting.
  3. 3. Interviewing is good for *you*.Getting good at interviewing is also good for you and your career. A provenability to vet effectively, differentiate between good and great candidates,and to sell candidates on joining your team is a key ingredient to youradvancement in most companies and enhances your attractiveness toprospective future employers.
  4. 4. Interviewing is expensive.When you add up the time spent interviewing, the cost of disruption, thetime lost to projects, the recruiting efforts expended getting the candidate tothis point, and the opportunity cost of not having someone in the role, it’s abig number.To frame it for you: The average cost/hire for an engineer in Silicon Valley isabout $15,000. If we hire 33% of interviewees (low, but typical for pickyshops), then each interview has a rough value of $5,000. Each time you walkin the interview door, you’re spending at least $1,000.
  5. 5. Your primary interviewing goals:To vet:Is this candidate up to snuff?Are they smart?Do they have the skills/experience for the job?Do they have a great attitude?Will they flourish in our environment?
  6. 6. Your primary interviewing goals:To sell:Softly.Make them like you.Make them want to work here. With you.Tell them why you joined GC. Weave in stories about GC culture/perks/fun.
  7. 7. First, some Do’s:
  8. 8. DO: Introduce yourself.Many newbie interviewers jump right into the Q&A. Take a few minutes at theoutset and introduce yourself – who you are, what you do at Game Closure(and why you joined).It’s an indication of respect for the candidate, and gives them context for theconversation to come.
  9. 9. DO: Make them comfortable.Interviewing can be an anxious experience for a candidate. Give them thecomfy seat. Make sure they have a water or drink. And after yourintroduction, open with a quick softball question (especially if they seemnervous). Getting a quick win under the belt usually calms folks down andproduces a better, and more valid, interview.
  10. 10. DO: Check out the candidate.Review the resume, homework/codesims, interview notes, online profiles,projects, etc. prior to your interview.A) We want the interview to be as productive as possible, and winging it doesn’t work.B) We want to the candidate to feel important. They’ll know if you’re just showing up …
  11. 11. DO: Design your interview.Coordinate assignments with the rest of the interview team to ensure youcover as much ground as possible and don’t duplicate efforts.Outline your personal questioning plan-of-attack, ideally with a few alternatepaths if the candidate performs unexpectedly good (or bad).
  12. 12. DO: Know the Game Closure spiel.Candidates ask questions, and it’s important that you are a) informed and b)relaying information that’s consistent with the rest of the team.Know the ‘basics’ – company history, current products, future plans, facts &figures, etc.
  13. 13. DO: Understand the role.It’s tough to evaluate the candidate without a solid understanding of howthey will fit into our team. Sample projects/challenges, importance/need forrole, goals of group, desired experience and skills, path(s) for advancement,daily/weekly tasks, etc. – you should be prepared to speak to any/all of these.
  14. 14. DO: Ask challenging questions.The best candidates want to be challenged, and will be attracted to thecompanies that (they feel) have the most rigorous screening process.Most candidates have seen the various brainteasers and stock technicalquestions. Design your interview to both vet the candidate for the requiredskills, but also with an eye towards making them think through difficult real-world scenarios on their feet.
  15. 15. DO: Interact. Respond.A good interview will approximate a conversation, with a solid back-and-forthflow. Respond to their answers – especially if you like ‘em. Offer your ownopinions and approaches. Tell them the answer you were looking for, so they learnsomething …Remember, they need to like you too. So robotically peppering them withquestions with no give-and-take might get you the answers you need, but willleave them with a bad taste in their mouth.Interviewing is tough. It becomes doubly tough when you don’t know how you’redoing …
  16. 16. DO: Allow them to ask questions.Ideally this happens organically throughout the interview, but carve out timeat the end for them to address any concerns or questions they have.The goal of the interview is two-fold: to vet/sell the candidate, and to informthem – make sure they’re armed with all the information they need aboutGame Closure to make an informed decision come offer time.
  17. 17. DO: Take notes.Write down your thoughts immediately after the interview. It’s frighteninghow quickly you will lose the specifics, especially when interviewing ramps upand you are meeting several people per day/week.
  18. 18. DO: Have an opinion.Your job (one of them anyway) is to emerge with an opinion on the hireabilityof this candidate. Have a take, and be willing to contribute to the discussion.No opinion means you wasted your time.
  19. 19. DO: Document your questions.Ideally over time we build a library of great interview questions with follow-ups, and ideal answers, yellow/red flags to watch for , etc.Post-interview, write down your questions, the candidate response, and whatyou liked/didn’t like about their approach.
  20. 20. DO: Sell throughout.Your primary job – no matter the quality of the candidate – is to make themleave wanting to work at Game Closure and with you. Sprinkle little tidbitsthroughout the interview – why you joined, the great environment, thechallenging projects, the steep learning curve, the impact you have, etc.Positive word-of-mouth is tough to generate. Make them love us, and moretalent will come our way.
  21. 21. DO: Confirm the hand-off.Ideally you’d never leave the candidate in the room alone. It’s yourresponsibility to make sure the next person shows up.I’ve experienced horror stories of candidates left in the room for 30+ minutes,and learned of the mistake via their Twitter/Facebook feed. That kind of PR isnot good for (recruiting) business.
  22. 22. And now the stuff to avoid, the Don’ts:
  23. 23. DO NOT: Ask illegal questions.There are a number of questions that are either illegal, or just not cool, tocover in an interview.Asking them, or making comments about sensitive areas, makes you (and thecompany) appear amateurish, or worse, exposes all of us to legal liability.It’s important to learn what you can and can’t say, and how to finesse thegrey areas.
  24. 24. Legal hotbuttons: Health PoliticalCitizenship Age Status Beliefs Marital Race Disability Religion Status National Number of Physical Arrests Origin Children Attributes
  25. 25. A little moreIn short, you are evaluating the candidate solely on his/her ability to performin the role and on your team.Extraneous concerns, such as: ---- he’s married, her parents are of X ancestry, she’s planning to have kids,he’s from abroad, he has a limp/obvious health issue, he has a family oryoung kids, she ascribes to X religion, he’s blonde/heavy/thin/old/young, etc.---have no place in any interview.
  26. 26. Questions I’ve heard“Wow. You’re cute/spunky/ …”“Where are you from?”“So, you have kids. How can you be dedicated to the company since you haveother, obviously important, obligations.”“How do you feel about being so much older than everyone else in theoffice?”“Have you killed anyone?” (to a candidate with a military background)“How long have you been married?”
  27. 27. DO NOT: Dig into the competition.When you have a candidate from a competitive company, it’s tempting toturn the interview into an intelligence-gathering exercise. Don’t.Candidates (even when they are no longer working for the company) aretypically bound by confidentiality agreements. Asking prying questions canput them in an awkward situation – they want to please in the interview –and expose them, and Game Closure, to legal liability.** A former company of mine, and several of our employees, were sued by acompetitor on these grounds.
  28. 28. DO NOT: Swear.I break this one every so often. The occasional ‘shit’ or ‘asshole’ isn’t the endof the world, but keep the frequency low.It’s ok to have a casual air in your interviews. In fact, it’s probably preferred.But there’s a line you shouldn’t cross. And every candidate will have a slightlydifferent line, so best to play it safe.
  29. 29. DO NOT: Leave them alone.It’s an uneasy feeling hanging out alone in a strange room, uncertain of whenthe next person will appear.If you must duck out to find the next person (ideally they’re outside a fewminutes before they’re due), then make sure you confirm the handoff andmake sure they are alone for as little time as possible.I’ve discovered candidates left alone for long stretches – they’re never thrilledand none of them ended up joining the company.
  30. 30. DO NOT: Bias the next interviewer.One of your jobs as an interviewer is to assess the candidate for the role andcompany, and it’s best if everyone is given the freedom to arrive at anindependent, unbiased opinion. Even a quick thumbs-up or indication ofsuckiness may color the next interviewer’s impression.A couple exceptions: 1) if there is an area that the next interviewer needs toexplore, ask them to, 2) if the candidates is clearly a terrible fit, let the leadrecruiter know so they can evaluate whether to end interviews early.
  31. 31. DO NOT: Give feedback nearby.It’s best to save your feedback for the group debrief. But definitely do notshare stray feedback anywhere near any outside parties (especially the actualinterviewee).I’ve seen awkwardness unfold when an interviewer shared not-so-positivefeedback to a co-worker, not realizing that the interviewee was passing by touse the restroom.
  32. 32. DO NOT: Share feedback widely.We want candidates to feel secure when interviewing, and referrers to trustthat their friends will be well-treated at GC.Feedback should be reserved for the interview and recruiting team. Sharingoutside these group can lead bad places – e.g. if you didn’t realize thecandidate was a friend of a co-worker or investor.
  33. 33. DO NOT: Use your phone.The candidate deserves 100% of your attention. Phones, iPads, computers,etc. should remain in your pocket (or preferably at your desk).If you must field a text or call, you should apologize and make it as brief aspossible.
  34. 34. That’s it. And again, thanks.Questions/edits/suggestions? Send ‘em my way to scott@gameclosure.com.Additional reading:- How to Sell GC (coming soon)- Great Interview Questions (coming soon)- Sourcing 101 (coming soon)