Healthy recipe for conducting great interviews
Providing a comfortable and nice experience to candidates while keeping it real.
Table of contents
This is my first Medium article! In this opportunity, I will share my experience in conducting interviews. It is really important to have guidelines and consistency when conducting any type of interview, be it technical, detection, or any other type of human interaction that contains the word “interview”. These points will make the candidate feel appreciated and will also help them stay engaged.
The usual way to start this topic is with the sentence “Be prepared”… yeah yeah, but how? The preparation phase is one of the most important parts of the interview pipeline, so the next time you are going to prepare for one, take into consideration these basic points:
If there was another step, read the previous interview notes.
This will help a lot when trying to get to know the candidate and even better skip some repeated questions unless you would like to validate some missing pieces.
Review the candidate’s CV.
I know it is kind of obvious but it is highly important for the candidate to feel that they are valued and that their profile has been reviewed, it makes it feel real.
Prepare a plan based on the candidate’s career and past experiences.
Following up on the previous point, it is also a good motivator to ask questions related to their previous and current experience. “I see that you helped x company achieve higher success when it came to international sales, could you tell me some challenges from back then?”.
As expressed, this will make the applicant feel valued and give them the chance to shine based on their own experiences, struggles, and learnings.
The emotional preparation.
Besides getting ready with the steps described before, it is also important to get emotionally ready, how?
Be on time.
Basic but very powerful tip, be always on time, with this simple task you are showing empathy and respect to the candidate’s time and experience.
Be thankful to the candidate.
Always start with a phrase that thanks the candidate for their time. Remember, it is not about you giving them a chance, it is the other way around.
Relax, it is not a battle.
Sometimes, we make the big mistake of thinking that the interview is like a battlefield, you throw question after question hoping to find that knowledge gap or make (unconsciously) the candidate fail. It is very related to the previous point, it is about them giving their time to you and not the other way around.
Be fair, imagine yourself being on the other side of the video or seat, remember maybe those times when you thought “it is not fair to evaluate me only based on x or y thing when I have much more to offer” well, it is the same for them.
Be mindful of the candidate’s stress.
Let’s face it, it is a stressful situation no matter how you put it, be aware of this, have compassion, and be empathic, being aware of this helps a lot in noticing those stressful moments and going around them to make it nicer.
You don’t need to be better than the candidate.
Sometimes we interview brilliant candidates, much brighter than us and that’s Okay, your knowledge may not be related at all to what the candidate is an expert in.
Allow the candidate to ask questions at any given point.
Mention this several times from the beginning (two times at least). Sometimes we focus so much on asking questions, and as mentioned before, to make (unconsciously) the candidate fail because we are looking for this ideal unicorn that will solve all of our problems that we don’t give them room to interrupt or even ask questions, once again, is not about you, is about them.
The technical preparation.
Last but not least, be technically prepared. Ideally, you have a list of premade questions that you will combine with the CV and other experience-related questions. Once you have a list of questions to ask the candidate, follow these points to make it even better:
Read and go through the questions, get used to it.
Read, read and read, get as familiar as possible with the questions you ask, at the end of the day, you’re the one asking right? so dominate those!
Prepare your answers.
Similar to the previous point, prepare the expected answers so you could even help them with hints or suggestions. Sometimes the candidate knows the answer but needs a little lift. This also helps you dominate the questions and even understand a different answer with the same meaning.
Prepare your environment.
Be it live coding, code snippets, IDE, or any other tool (especially on video calls nowadays), prepare and prepare your environment beforehand.
Have a solid understanding of what you will be asking.
As mentioned before, dominate your questions!
Own the pace.
Be mindful of the time, try to never go over the scheduled time and if needed, handle the number of questions and time invested on each one.
As a self-explanatory point, always keep a high level of respect.
The closing part.
In the end, it is important to create your notes and the outcome of your interview to share them with other related parties that will come in the next step of the interview pipeline. You can make the notes while interviewing or after (I prefer after since it allows me to be fully concentrated on the candidate’s answers). Think once again that this person will be in your team or organization, and imagine yourself working side by side.
If the candidate did not meet the criteria for the role level, think about even a lower level if possible (ex. Senior to Mid-level) but of course, only if you see the candidate as a potential co-worker. Try to finalize the interview with at least 5 mins of margin, so that the candidate is free to ask any questions.