IN MANY WAYS interviewing is an art. You have one
hour (more if you count the cumulative interview time)
to determine if the candidate has the desired skills,
and, more importantly, if you would enjoy working
with this person. That is a lot of ground to cover.
As if finding out all that information isn’t a daunting
enough task, you also need to make sure that the
candidate has a positive experience while visiting your
company (after all, people talk and you want them to be
saying good things—since this candidate may not be
your next hire, but someone he or she meets may be).
As an interviewer, the key to your success is
preparation. Planning will help ensure the success of
the interview (both in terms of getting the information
you need and giving the candidate a good impression).
The following list is advice to consider prior to stepping
into that room with two chairs and a whiteboard.
1. Review the Candidate’s Résumé
Read every line of every résumé (and
this goes for the really long ones that
go on for four pages). Where have these
candidates worked? How long did they
stay in a role and did their positions
change? These questions make for interesting conversation topics. Hopefully there will be something in a candidate’s background that piques your
interest and can be great fodder for
starting the interview with some common ground. This can put candidates
at ease, giving them their greatest
chance of success.
2. Review Feedback from
Most software companies have a longer interview process that can start
with phone-screen or homework
problems and evolve from there. If the
candidate has done homework problems, or your teammates have taken
the time to type up feedback, do your
due diligence and read it. These can
also be a great source of material for
questions, but more importantly, it is
unprofessional to ask the same questions that have already been posed to
the candidate. This is partly because
you will not learn as much from repeated questions, but also because
the candidate will be bored or unimpressed going over the same ground.
Great candidates want to be challenged, and an interview team where
people are asking the same questions
makes the candidate think the team is
disorganized or unimaginative.
3. Use Calibrated Questions
Interviews are not the time to try
something new. Take the time to do
new problems on your own or test
them on your peers. Come to the interview with questions that you were
given in your interview (since you
certainly will know how well you did)
or that you have already given to others. Testing new material can really
hurt a candidate’s chances for success or, worse, give him or her a bad
impression of the company when you
10 Ways to
Be a Better
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Plan ahead to make the interview
a successful one.
BY KATE MATSUDAIRA