Hello again everyone! Super thank you to all who decided to follow me and for all the kind words after my first article, I am truly humbled 🙇. Now, to properly thank you for everything I can only write some more, right 🐝?
Soooo... after some time being all over the place and throwing random thoughts in and out of my mental draft article, I've finally decided to talk to you about some of the most important pieces of my career path for the past 5 to 6 years, interviews 🌟.
To be completely honest with you, I am an interview superfan if there was ever such a thing ❤️. I've been on both sides of the table so many times I can't even count, and even after all of that, every single interview continues to get me all hyped up and ready to go 🚀. But that was not by any means the case all the time, it actually happened after some tens of failed/poorly guided experiences during which I tried to understand what makes for a good interview experience.
So, while I might talk about the actual technical side in some following articles if you guys want that, today I want to focus on how to offer and get the most out of each interview, no matter which side of the table/phone/camera you are. So here we go, my top tips on great interview experiences 👇.
Interviewer or interviewee, being prepared for the experience is never optional in my humble opinion. This includes getting minimal google-available information about the company you are applying for or the person you will have the interview with.
- Have a well structured generic plan for the interview covering both non-technical and the technical issues of interest.
- Make sure to read the candidate's CV but do not presume that the information in there is everything you need to know. Be ready to explore with that as a starting point 🗞️.
- Each candidate you will get has strong and weak points. Make sure to try and create an environment where the interview starts with his strong skill set to drive confidence.
- When setting up the interview, ask as many questions as you can think of: who will I have the interview with? what is the project about or what is the tech stack I should be focusing on? how will the interview be structured? what in my CV/profile made you think I am a good candidate?
- Do some research on the company, project and the tech stack you might end up using. Try to be in the interviewer's shoes, what would you be looking for?
- Try to get a short recap done before the interview, here are a few areas to cover:
- general computer science knowledge (algorithms, data structures, OOP fundamentals)
- your strong suites from the JD - you got called in for a reason, try to make the best out of it 💪
- your past experiences and projects you worked on, think about what you learned from them and what would the highlights be if you had to share them with someone
I am one of those people who think that 70% of the experience is created before the actual interview happens, so take the time to get it right, both of you want this to be good, trust me.
I know, I know ... time is short, you might have a lot of candidates on the list that you still need to talk to, or you might come after a stressful workday and you don't feel in the mood to be social and to try to reach out to the other person, to get to know and understand them. If this is indeed the case and you really can't get yourself to be in a social vibe, please... reschedule.
Being able to connect, understand and have an emphatic approach to the person on the other end is an absolutely crucial part of the interview. This moment, right here, is the first contact 👽, the place where you get the chance to see what your possible future colleague is like, what drives them and what gets them down, how open are they to share and talk about the pieces that make them who they are.
No matter on which side you currently are in this process, remember above anything else that on the other side there is another human being, with huuuge potential and a myriad of experiences from which you can learn, so buckle up and start talking, there is no right or wrong in experience sharing, just potential.
Interviewer tip: Unfortunately most people view interviews as a one-sided experience, try to make it less so, figure out if they are emotional and what type of personality might they have, prepare your interaction model based on those queues to get the best outcome possible. There is a lot to learn here and I guarantee that it will bring a lot of value to your interviews but here is a really short article from XDesign team that summarizes the bare minimum.
It should be a pretty obvious thing, but as an interviewer, if you don't know and understand the answers to your questions and what is it you're truly looking for, then it is a clear sign you skipped the first tip in this list so you might want to revisit that.
Even so, I would advise to take it a step further and make sure you can explain in a very concise and easy to understand manner each and every concept you are drilling into.
For this entire process, both the interviewer and the interviewee offer time, one of the most precious resources available. So let's treat it as such and try to make the best out of it. Here are a few things to always keep an eye to make it a win-win scenario:
It is highly useful for both parts to know what is the pattern this particular interview will follow (how is the interview structured). It gives a sense of control and security for the candidate to know what to expect and it helps the interviewer explain what the current desired outcome is.
Make sure the current discussion topic is clear to both parties and you are aligned on what the desired result is.
We are all different in a lot of ways, and when communicating with someone for the first time it's really easy to misunderstand them.
Try to always target and focus on the concept and not on strict, by the book, definitions. The core understanding must be there, be it through theory or practice, the wrapping paper does not matter for either of the parties.
On the same note, interviewers please, stop using trap/trick questions to assess candidates. These should never exist in a professional interview setting, period.
Keep in mind that the candidate is in a new, non-comfortable setting where they are trying their best in order to prove themselves. The interviewer is there to guide them and help them bring out the best version that they can at that particular moment.
As human beings, we are not mechanical and do not adhere well to mechanical and strict environments, so to get the best out of the interview, think of it as a little self-building story.
Every single interview that I ever had brought me some amount of value. There are unprepared people on both sides of the table but that should never bring you down or make you deviate from the main purpose you have: to get the best value out of the experience.
So, for me, the most important part is to make sure the questions and topics discussed get explored to the best knowledge of both parties. As an interviewee, I usually ask an enormous number of follow-up questions and when interviewing I try to make sure the candidate is comfortable making mistakes, we're all human, we're allowed to. So let's try to get the concept clear so we can both be aligned.
At the end of the interview, there is usually a decent alignment on how the whole process went but you can never truly be sure unless you ask 😃.
This is usually the part that gets left out the most and to be honest, it's just as vital as the rest for a great interview, but maybe more important than anything else in your growth process. Just like with any Uber ride 🚗 at the end of the interview I usually like to reserve some time to get to understand what went right and what went wrong and what does the other person thinks I can do better. Here is what I focus on in each scenario.
- How was the interview, do you feel the questions were relevant for the current job you are applying for?
- How was the interaction with me? Was I clear enough about what concepts I followed with each question and was the manner in which I asked the questions clear enough?
- Based on the performance of the candidate I usually have a prepared list of resources to offer and guide them to get a better handling of each particular subject. So the question is, would you like to point you to some resources related X/Y?
- Can you help me understand how are the concepts we talked about going to be applied in the current project you are recruiting for?
- Was I clear in my responses? Were you able to understand what I tried to explain?
- What was my weakest/vaguest explanation? What is it you sensed was missing from it?
- What one concept do you feel I should cover better? Can you point me to some resources that would help me achieve that?
Don't forget, you're both looking to improve, so try and help the other person leave with a sense of what they did well and what could they be working on next. Self-improvement is a constant in our lives! 🍄
The most important point to take away from this article, if I would have to pick one, is to always keep in mind that both of you are looking at spending this time wisely, so be kind and above all, curious.
Gosh, I didn't even realize at the beginning how much I could say around the subject, and I still haven't touched on a lot of points, especially technical ones. But this, this is the core that I am guiding my interviews by, so I would love to get some input on what you guys think and what you feel that I missed, I'll be certain to take some notes and try to get better ✏️.
As always, tons of love 💛and stay curious!