Recently, I interviewed for a leadership role that left me bitter at the decision not to proceed. While I wasn't sold that I was the correct fit for the role, I felt that the decision was made prematurely given how the role was advertised. I won't name the company, but I'll generalize it as being of the moonshot pedigree with an extremely unique and forward-thinking business problem being solved.
As an interviewee, I rely on job descriptions to self-evaluate & prepare for interviews with different stakeholders. In my most recent experience, I found myself performing top-level discovery in both the hiring manager and technical interviews, leaving me unprepared to speak in regards to those technologies. If you know that you need to build out a data lake with a robust abstraction layer, or that you need to scale a tech stack component that's more unique to that industry, it's helpful to describe that with the advertisement. It's also helpful to stack-rank your priorities in the job description, as it intuitively emphasizes what you need most.
To put it simply, it is disrespectful in business to schedule a meeting without an agenda. That opinion applies equally to the interview process, as it doesn't enable one side of the meeting to adequately prepare. As an interviewee, going forward I will be asking for an agenda for every meeting. This will enable me to ask follow-up questions if I'm unsure of what a certain topic will be and come prepared.
Competency tests are a common (and debatably necessary) part of the interview process, as it serves to be a filter around the necessary skills to succeed. But a lot of companies get it wrong and measure a candidate incorrectly, which is how I felt after this interview.
The test itself (Application Architecture Design) is a completely legitimate type of test when you're evaluating an individual contributor like a Senior or Principal engineer. But as a leader? I'm not being hired for ditch digging, I'm being hired to build successful teams that solve the company's problems. Yes, it's important I have a base level of competency, but when the role isn't that of an individual contributor, this kind of test is not a golden signal for evaluating a candidate.
To start, I would update the job description to reflect what topics are going to be discussed during the hiring manager and technical stage interviews, and stack rank the priorities of each bullet point.
Second, Agendas. They don't even have to be complex agendas either, something as simple as the following works:
1. Introductions 2. Pair session - Application Architecture Diagram 3. Q&A
Third, I would design a competency test where the candidate pitches a solution & plan to implement. This would be a more appropriate way to measure a leadership role involving a vague problem & a budget to build a team. It wouldn't be a synchronous test, rather an assignment that would be issued after passing the hiring manager stage and submitted following the completion of stakeholder interviews.
Last but not least, I would re-organize the technical interview step into a round robin where a candidate meets with 2-3 stakeholders individually to evaluate competency. Preferably, the stakeholders would be from different teams/departments, enabling different perspectives & providing a more comprehensive evaluation of a candidate, reflecting the the fact the job isn't a single function.
Do you empathize with my experience, have your own to pour on, or have differing opinions? Share your thoughts below in the comments section, but please keep it civil and agree to disagree ;)