Better Interviewing for Better Hiring


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Better Interviewing for Better Hiring

  1. Better Interviewing for Better Hiring<br />Chris Westin<br />Velocity Ignite<br />June 14, 2011<br />1<br /><br />
  2. Has this ever happened to you?<br />Your team interviews a candidate but can’t decide if they want to hire<br />4-5 interviews, and you still don’t know for sure if the candidate can do the job<br />2<br /><br />
  3. How about this?<br />You are scheduled to interview someone, but you don’t know what to ask them<br />You don’t know what the job requirements are<br />3<br /><br />
  4. From the other side of the table<br />You went on an interview, and got tired of answering the same questions over and over again, all day long<br />Typically: “Tell me about what you’re working on.”<br />Or worse: the interviewer asked you for your resume so they could read it then<br />4<br /><br />
  5. And…<br />After five interviews, you’re annoyed that you’re being asked back for a second round<br />“Geez, another day off work?”<br />“Who are these dorks? Do I really want to work with them?”<br />5<br /><br />
  6. Some simple steps for improving your hiring process<br />Making and Using an Interview Plan<br />6<br /><br />
  7. Start with a job description<br />The hiring manager should have already made a job description listing the essential skills for the job<br />The hiring manager gave this to an agency or a recruiter, or posted it somewhere<br />7<br /><br />
  8. Create an interview plan<br />The hiring manager makes an interview plan based on the job description<br />Divide up the required job skills across the interview team<br />Allow a small overlap to get a couple of opinions on each skill<br />8<br /><br />
  9. Simplify Preparation<br />Hiring Manager: you will find different team members are best at different types of interviews<br />Use that: have them do the same types of interviews across candidates<br />But over time, have people branch out; you’ll need future planning flexibility<br />9<br /><br />
  10. Reusing Preparation<br />Interviewers: spend a few minutes figuring out how to test the skills you are to interview for on the plan<br />Reuse that for each candidate for any particular job<br />10<br /><br />
  11. Sample Engineering Interviews<br />Recent work experience<br />Write code<br />Find bugs in a code sample and fix<br />Write SQL/schema design<br />Find a performance problem and fix<br />Capacity estimation<br />Design a state machine<br />Block diagram design of a system<br />11<br /><br />
  12. “But I don’t have time to prepare…”<br />Save everybody time by avoiding needing a second round<br />Preparing will take less time than it will take to clean up your code base after a bad hire<br />Preparing will take far less time than it would take for you to do the work of a good hire in the months and years to come<br />So, make time!<br />The time spent preparing is an investment<br />12<br /><br />
  13. Things NOT TO DOHow to Find out what you need to know<br />In the Interview<br />13<br /><br />
  14. Don’t be ridiculous<br />If you ask for code on a whiteboard, don’t complain about misplaced semi-colons (or similar issues)<br />That’s what the compiler is for<br />(That’s the thing that makes those red squigglies for some of you.)<br />14<br /><br />
  15. Don’t be unrealistic<br />Given 20 minutes, the candidate probably won’t be able to come up with the optimal system redesign you just spent 6 months figuring out<br />Choose questions that can be answered reasonably in the time given<br />Cannot stress this enough for coding or design interviews<br />We take our proximity and inside knowledge for granted<br />15<br /><br />
  16. Don’t telegraph the answer<br />For example, “Have you ever used CSS to do layout instead of tables?”<br />Well, duh. What do you think the candidate will say?<br />Instead, try “How would you do this kind of layout?”<br />16<br /><br />
  17. Don’t look for a follower<br />Don’t check up on the candidate’s personal taste in programming languages, OSes, etc, just to see if they match yours<br />Ask about what matters: does the candidate know the language/system/whatever your employer is using well enough to do the job?<br />Or, have they demonstrated that they could learn it quickly?<br />17<br /><br />
  18. Be clear on what matters<br />Oops, the candidate doesn’t remember the exact name and signature of your favorite method on java.util.HashMap (or whatever)<br />That’s what javadoc/… is for<br />If they had the documentation, could they use whatever it is effectively?<br />18<br /><br />
  19. Look for critical thinking<br />For example: “If you could change something or add a feature to <language>/<tool>/<product> what would it be?”<br />You want a problem solver, right?<br />So check to see if they’ve thought about how to solve pain or problems they’re having!<br />19<br /><br />
  20. Questions? Comments?<br />Blog:<br />I’ll post this deck there<br /><br />Twitter: @cwestin63<br />20<br /><br />