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Mario Saul
Mario Saul

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Why have engineers run interviews

Recruiting and hiring can be a time consuming, frustrating and hard process. Particularly for tech companies where employees are in much higher demand than in any other area. So much so that most companies tend to outsource the job to HR consulting firms or even hire a professional themselves. It seems to be clear that it's not something to take lightly, selecting the right people is critical and one you just can’t afford to get wrong.

So if it's such a big deal, why is it that we choose to have our engineers take care of it rather than specialized professionals? I mean, it does seem contradictory since we are far from experts on the subject. Even more if we see it from a practical perspective, it is way more expensive to take engineers away from working billable hours with the clients than to have it outsourced.

Before I answer the question I would like to clarify that we don't have anything against the way HR run interviews, quite the contrary I would say. We understand that a professionally driven interview can be of great significance when evaluating a candidate, and that's why we often send them to meet with a pro in order to get an external opinion subsequent to getting our approval.

So without further ado, let's dive right into the answer.

They know what is like to be on the other side of the table

Interviews can be pretty stressful, even for someone who's gone through many of them. Just think about it, walking into a strange room to meet strange people and try to make a good impression, while at the same time collecting enough information to decide whether the job is right for you or not.

It's easy to understand why some people just don't do well in interviews, it can be so overwhelming that they let their nerves get the best of them. And although good communication skills are paramount for the job, an awkward interview doesn't necessarily mean a candidate doesn't possess them.

“You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.” – John Steinbeck

Many of our engineers know this firsthand, since not so long ago they were going through the same themselves. Having been in the other person's shoes is key to truly make sense of their situation, and what's more, this empathy naturally results in making the interviewer seem more human and therefore less daunting during the interview.

Cut from the same cloth

I've always thought of job interviews kind of like going on a first date, the picture does look pretty similar to the one I painted in the previous section: Feelings of excitement and nervousness are all over the place, while trying to look like a catch at the same time. After all, they both boil down to similar questions such as whether they can both picture themselves spending a whole lot of time with each other.

The success or failure of a first date can be determined by the ability of finding something in common and moving away from the weather small talk all night long. Same goes for a job interview, and being able to hold deep meaningful conversations require both parties to share some common experiences and of course be able to speak the same language. Sounds like a no-brainer to me: Who can meet these requirements better than someone who has the same educational background, faced the same challenges and is already doing the job?

This first date analogy also helped me understand how important it is to know that an interview is a two way street. You're not only selecting from among several candidates, the best candidates are also selecting from among several options. Therefore if you want to properly give the right impression, you need the best representatives. You are marketing your organization at all times, and it's equally important to paint the right picture to candidates who don't end up getting the job as well.

Personal development

At WyeWorks we understand that having great technical skills is just the first step to becoming a great software engineer, like my friend Sebastián explained in his post What makes a great software engineer great
, which is why we are constantly searching for opportunities that enable people to take the next step and develop a more diverse skill set.

Many people may think that interviewing isn't that hard of a job and believe they can become experts by simply conducting a few interviews. I know this firsthand since I was one of those people myself, and let me tell you I couldn't have been more wrong. Immediately after my first experience as an interviewer I realized how challenging the job can be. You don't want to have awkward silences during the interview, you have to know how to direct the show, be well prepared and be as good of a listener as you are a speaker. Not to mention all the small stuff such as being aware of body language and detecting the interaction's subtleties.

I've been conducting interviews for only about a year and a half now, and with each new one I become more aware of how much I still have to learn. But also as I look back to my early interviewing days, I can see how much I've grown since then and how it has helped me develop skills that I can use in many different areas of my life, even beyond work.

Closing thoughts

So if the benefits are so clear, why aren't all companies taking this approach? Well, it's not all rainbows and unicorns. First of all you need engineers who are willing to get out of their confort zones and are motivated enough to invest a significant amount of time and effort into it. Then, it's worth mentioning that when compared to its alternatives, taking this approach means an investment for the company.

Is it worth it then? Absolutely, we truly believe that a company is only as good as its people, which is why we put our best efforts into building the best company we can.

Originally published in WyeWorks blog.

Top comments (1)

csoneill profile image
Christopher Smith O'Neal

HR agencies / Companies own HR are a pain in the *. More than once this year I heard questions like 'if I give you a piece of paper and a pencil can you program a simple webpage with a registry, login, database etc'.

I think they do that in order to have longer processes looking for the 'ideal candidate' while they are justifying their position