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How we conduct interviews and build great teams

I came across this article that discusses how Google has moved away from those silly 'thought process' questions (like "Why are manhole covers round", and "How many gas stations are there in Richmond, VA") they and other tech leaders have used, toward structured interviews.

They now ask everyone the same questions and score them the same way. They are asking behavioral questions and situational questions to make sure you fit the mold they created for their company and culture.

While it's great that those brainteaser questions have been shown the door, I'm not a fan of the 'same questions for all' structured interview process and prefer to instead ask questions based solely on their CV and how their experience relates to the requirements of the open position. While this may make it difficult to 'score' candidates, I believe that is a good thing and this interview format has helped me build smart, capable, and diverse teams that have met enormous technical challenges and exceeded every expectation I and other leaders could have had.

For many companies it may not be possible to intelligently interview candidates about their prior experience in technologies and situations that they are not experienced with themselves. The interviewer has a need for a Linux engineer, or a MS SQL DBA, and they are going to ask questions about those technologies, determine if they will be a good fit for the team, then hope they've made the right decision because interviewing is a long, grueling process for everyone involved and it's best to not have to replace a new hire.

We at BlueDot Technology have been fortunate enough to support a number of different technologies and can competently interview someone for nearly any technical position, so we review the applicant's resume and ask both technical and situational questions based on the experience they are claiming to have. It's also important to have questions for different levels of administration and engineering. This not only gives you a better understanding of the candidate's overall capabilities, it provides softball questions to help reset the candidate in case they are struggling. I have hired people that seemed to be having a really bad day at the beginning of an interview, unable to answer advanced questions, and after getting a couple easy ones they were able to reset and access whatever part of their brain was blocked and nailed the rest of the interview. They ended up being great and dependable employees and coworkers.

Interviewing is stressful. If you've been continuously employed for a while and are just getting back into the job market, it may be worth doing a few throw away interviews to get comfortable. But if recruiters and hiring managers stay away from gotcha questions and just find someone really interested in the related technologies, who can do the work that will be assigned to them, everyone's experience will improve.

For information on our recruitment services, please contact us today.


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