Interview : How I interview? – Part I

I get to interview candidates regularly, for my team or group or for others. Broadly, they fall into two categories – Technical or Business openings. Experience level of these candidates typically range from mid-to-senior level folks to senior levels.

Preamble

  • Starting point would be to clearly understand the job to which we are seeking candidates. No two jobs are same. So, I don’t take the interview towards these openings lightly. A good understanding of what we are looking (and what we are not looking for) provides clarity as how the interview should be structured
  • Equally, this leads to a better job description which helps the candidates to understand what’s out there and to see whether it matches their interest and expectations
  • All too often, I get resumes which are either irrelevant to the opening or, that it’d be stretch to even have a discussion with the candidate. This happens mostly because, the recruiter or the search-firm doesn’t have a good idea of the requirement or, they are stretched and under pressure to push few resumes. Either way, it doesn’t help us, so better to avoid such situations.

Preparing to interview

  • Assuming that all is taken care and one or more resumes have been short-listed to interview, next decision point is about a discussion over the phone or a face-to-face interview. I find these two, to be two different beasts to tackle.
  • A telephonic interview is quick, convenient and saves time. A face-to-face interview does take time, has possibilities to spin out of time but is a must and such an interaction naturally tells stories, which are simply not possible in a telephonic discussion.
  • Either way, I make sure that I get the resume ahead of time and make sure that I go through it, to understand ┬ámore about the candidate.
  • While resume is a blob of text, that could be crafted in many ways, still it gives you the “context” of the candidate, and their background.┬áThis is important to me, to structure the questions or discussion points
  • I don’t write down questions to ask, but I always prepare on the topics I want to discuss. I then let the discussion lead the way toward spontaneous questions or follow ups. This also helps me, refine my questions over time, instead of just asking the same question to all the candidates.
  • Whether its a telephonic interview or face-to-face interview, leading to the time I always make sure the schedule is intact and gives me the time needed to have a good discussion.
  • If its a telephonic interview, I make sure that I have a good phone with stable connection and can reproduce good voice. And a backup if things go out of the way. Usually I call from a land-line and keep mobile-phone as a backup. (I make sure I put the phone on mute to not be distracted by new mails or phone calls or text messages)
  • If its a face-to-face interview, I always make sure to know the venue where I’d be meeting the candidate. And leading protocols as whether I’d bring the candidate from the lobby or, I’d be joining the candidate in the venue. On the room, proximity to rest rooms and break rooms.
  • Most importantly, I need to understand my position in the list of interviewers. Am I going first or in the middle or is this just a formal discussion where the decision (to hire or not hire) is already made. This again, helps me structure my questions with in the available time.

Next, I will write about how I conduct an interview and what I look for.

Interview – Introduction

This is a topic I have been wanting to write for a long time.

Like most of us, I have been on both sides – interviewed for my team, my group, for others and have been interviewed (for job, subject-specific discussions, conferences, products etc.).

I love both of them !

There is a lot to write on these but let me begin with how I approach an interview, if I were to interview. Then I will write about how I prepare for my interviews.