Thursday, March 20, 2008


I've written before about interviewing, but I think there's a topic people have ignored, namely that people conducting interviews forget (in my vast experience of employment in 2 companies) is that a part of the purpose of the interview is to sell the group/company to the interviewee.

Shortly after the post in August, a friend of mine started looking for jobs, he interviewed at companies X and Y, and his experiences were very different.

Let me compare and contrast the two interviews:

At company X, he was underwhelmed by the technical lead for the job (the guy is nice, but somewhat soft-spoken, so not a lot of energy/excitement), and the questions posed by all the interviewers were pretty shallow. In other words, the questions were like, "write a routine to do sorting", which he did, and then they moved on to the next question - no further investigation of why he chose that, how might he optimize it, etc. etc. etc. It sounded kind of like watching an interview on TV where the questions were all 'yes' or 'no' questions.

At company Y, the questions were very often 'deep' questions, where the initial answer was picked apart and explored. The questions also seemed to be a little more interesting and challenging - one of the guys asked my friend how he might approach a problem that the guy had been working on that entire week.

Needless to say, my friend decided against working at company X and was very tempted by company Y.

I recall my interview at Mentor, and it was somewhat similar to my friend's at company X, only I wasn't asked to write any code. I did bring some samples of what I'd written and offered them to the hiring manager. I presume the interviewers liked what they saw in me, but I was concerned because I expected to be asked to show some level of competence in the job for which I was interviewing (a programmer).

I always figured that if you're interviewing for a job at an auto-repair shop, you'd be expected to poke around an engine and show some competence. The same thing should go for a programming job. And, wouldn't you be a little concerned if you knew your mechanic didn't require a competency exam before hiring his mechanics? (See raganwald's hiring a juggler post.)

So remember, the quality of the interview you provide influences how the interviewee views the company.


Reginald Braithwaite said...

Great post, thank you!

jt archie said...

I think the thing that has to be done for interviewing for companies is the ability to filter them out. One of the best ways would be to find the recruiters that will help filter the jobs. I recently wrote about this myself.