8. Bring a List of Questions
to the Interview
No candidate will think less of you for
coming in with written questions, and
in fact some may appreciate that you
prepared the same way they did. This
will also help you establish your game
plan and agenda so you don’t forget.
Another one of my favorite tips is always to have spare questions for really good interviews (that get through
all the material quickly) or for bad interviews (where you don’t want to ask
your prepared questions because they
are too hard).
9. Be Collaborative
You want the candidate to be successful, so try to approach a problem together. I know many other managers
who have moved to a pair-program-ming model where the interviewer and
the candidate code a problem together
in an editor or Google doc.
10. Try To Make the Problems
Feel As Real-World As Possible
Smart people want to be challenged.
They also would love to get a taste of
what it is like to work at your company.
Do your best to come up with questions
that at least hint at some of the problems you might solve (or problems that
relate to the underlying theory of the
work you do).
Of course, there is no right way to
do an interview, but you can always
be better. Make an effort to make your
candidates as comfortable as possible
so they have the greatest chance for
success. Happy hiring!
Nine Things I Didn’t Know I Would Learn
Being an Engineer Manager
10 Optimizations on Linear Search
Thomas A. Limoncelli
Kate Matsudaira ( katemats.com) is the founder of
her own company, Popforms. Previously she worked at
Microsoft and Amazon as well as startups like Decide,
Moz, and Delve Networks.
Copyright held by owner/author.
Publication rights licensed to ACM. $15.00
˲ Design question: 10–15 minutes
˲ Two to three cultural or situational
questions: 5–10 minutes
˲ Time to answer the candidate’s
6. Head In With a Positive Attitude
You want the candidate to have a
good experience with the company
and your process. If you are upbeat,
it is much more likely a qualified candidate will accept the position. If you
are not, people talk and it is a small
world. You want candidates to think
well of the company and feel they
were treated fairly. It’s like karma—
what goes around comes around. To
ensure this happens, try to make your
questions and hints feel collaborative, and whatever you do, do not insult any candidates or make them feel
stupid. They are probably nervous
and you already have the job—there is
nothing to prove, so make an effort to
give them a fair shot.
7. Take Notes
Seems obvious, but so many people
don’t take notes. Even if you have a
photographic memory, taking the time
to write down a few things here and
there will indicate to the candidate you
are paying attention and are genuinely
interested in what he or she has to say.
As an avid note-taker, here are some of
my favorite tips:
˲ Try not to use a laptop. Yes, it is
probably faster and more efficient, but
it can be a physical divider between you
and the candidate, not to mention off-putting. When an interviewer uses a
computer during an interview, it is easy
to think that he or she is not paying attention to what the candidate has to say.
˲ Instead of writing code/drawings
on a whiteboard, try paper. This may
be more comfortable for most people
than standing up at a whiteboard,
and you can take the paper with you,
which is better than any copied whiteboard code.
˲ Don’t write notes on the résumé.
Someone once told me that in some
cultures, business cards and résumés are considered a reflection of the
person, and writing on them can be
insulting. While I personally haven’t
encountered anyone who felt this way,
I am sure never to do this (and bring
my own paper) just in case.
Don’t write notes
on the résumé.
Someone once told
me that in some
cards and résumés
of the person,
and writing on them
can be insulting.