From my interactions with peers, I’ve found most of us (if not all) often dread interviews, especially when you realize that the hiring process across the industry is broken. This is due to events like bias, lack of proper feedback from organizations when you aren’t shortlisted or being 1 among 1000s of people that get generic recruiter messages everyday via email / LinkedIn.
Not only these occurrences are cliched but they also end up taking away genuine talent from an organization. There are due exceptions but it’s equivalent to finding a needle in the haystack.
Therefore when the opportunity to conduct interviews sprouted up at my current workplace, I took it head on as I was keen to see the other end of the spectrum. I had been included in the process with 1 of my previous companies in bits & pieces so tackling it with full responsibility here was something novel and it immediately paid off dividends.
Let me illustrate both scenarios from a DevOps / Site Reliability Engineering perspective:
- After the initial niceties, I begin with answering any questions (both technical & behavioral)
- Then I ask questions related to the organization’s principles and their employee culture, the challenges they face, why they use certain tools & frameworks among others.
- Since I’m perpetually curious to learn and improve, their answers help me determine if I’ve a potential chance to contribute in solving actual problems were I to be part of their team.
- Finally, I sign off on a courteous note with the question - "Could you please let me know as soon as you've an update on my candidature?"
A key learning I’ve had from following this is gives more clarity to both sides about the value proposition they could have on being associated with each other.
- Here I kickstart the process by telling them what my current organization does and where does a DevOps / SRE fit in.
- Then, I ask questions to evaluate candidates on how good they are with their fundamentals, concise (not necessarily eloquent but clear) and know the why behind using technology X/Y/Z (of their own experience) along with observing them to understand their behavioral traits.
- Parallely, I answer all questions I’ve asked during the interview and note down well presented ones to enable bi-directional knowledge sharing.
- Finally I ensure that the candidate's is aware of the next steps (regardless of whether they clear or not) and thank them for their time.
Some insights I’ve got here post this activity is most people can have all the experience in the world but still falter to answer any from the above (i.e: the fundamentals and the why). Not recalling something is perfectly valid but unable to have coherent reasoning towards one's sense of purpose is surely a red flag because one might end up building a team that solely works in a mechanical manner.
Recently, an additional feedback I've received from multiple candidates is that an interview with me felt like a natural conversation. This has been very re-assuring and extremely humbling to say the least. While there is still a long way to go but I believe I’ve made a good start.