Tech Interview Tips From The Other Side

By | December 29, 2013

Usually I am on the interviewer side of the table when looking at prospective job applicants. But recently I had the opportunity to sit on the other side of the table. Here are some things I learned.

A Good Candidate Interviews the Company

A good candidate interviews you just as much as you interview them. Most interviewers think that they have the upper hand. After all, they are the ones that are offering the job right? I used to think that.

Smart job seekers are not only looking for a career boost, but also happiness in the workplace. At the end of the day I personally care more about team dynamic than that extra $50 a month into 401k.

As a interviewer clearly outline the process

For interviews you are expected to show up on time and jump through whatever hoops or tests they want if you want the job. Pretty standard stuff. However, if you, as an interviewer, don’t clearly outline the process this looks very bad in the candidate’s eyes.

As a candidate it is nice to know that I would have an initial phone interview, an in-person, a meet the staff, etc etc ahead of time. If a candidate finds themselves in a state of not knowing what is happening next and having to adjust their schedule accordingly they will move on, and quickly.

I suppose if you want the job bad enough you would navigate those waters anyway, but it reflects poorly on the organization if the process is haphazard. It makes me think as a candidate “what other areas are not planned out?” and “do I really want to work at such a disorganized place?”. These are both scary prospects as an I.T. professional.

Don’t make it too technical

You should be able to tell from the way I answer questions whether I am qualified or not. To ask some esoteric question that even you had to look up on Google makes you look like a jerk and me uncomfortable (unless that’s the purpose).

Taking notes should rank highly

Some people view a candidate taking or referring to notes as a bad thing. Note taking/referencing is a plus, not a minus in my opinion. Just by the fact that I take notes shows that I’m organized, thorough, care about what you’re talking about, and detailed.

Don’t handle the interview process over the phone

There’s a lot that is missed by facial expression, body language, and mannerisms. You really only get half the experience of what a person is like over the phone.

If I ever have the choice whether to include an interviewer on an interview panel over the phone I would avoid it as much as possible. Also, it bears mentioning that if you have have one of the interviewers conferenced in be sure that they know where the mute button is so everyone doesn’t  have to listen to their dog barking, cell phone ringing, or the UPS man buzzing their doorbell. It’s rude to the other people interviewing and rude to the candidate.

Don’t balk at salary

Give me a number to start. Make it clear. Don’t play games.

There are plenty more but these were the standout issues I came across. I am looking forward to taking these strategies to heart for future hires as, while they seem common sense, aren’t readily apparent.


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