Hacker Career Advice

How to Interview 101

One day in the future, you’ll be asked to interview a potential hire. It’ll probably be an engineer, but it could also be for a position in sales, operations, or another department.

In either case, your job is to determine:

Does this person understand what this job is & are they interested in it?

You’re the expert here. Talk to the candidate about what you do, how your company makes money, what they’ll be working on, who they’ll interact with, and most importantly how their performance will be measured.

Let the candidate ask questions and be as transparent as you can, without revealing any confidential information.

Ask what excites them about this role and how they’ll apply their skillset to it. Keep your questions open ended (no yes/no answers). Give them a chance to surprise you.

Protip: It’s your responsibility to come prepared too. Review the candidate’s resume & background at least 30 minutes beforehand.

Can this person do this job well & improve my business?

Ask open-ended questions that help you assess the candidate’s problem solving skills, level of comfort with key technologies, and their willingness to work in a dynamic situation with changing boundaries.

In my experience, knowing a particular language isn’t important, but knowing how to solve a particular problem & being open to learning a new language is.

This is also an opportunity to identify and dig into red flags. If the candidate gives you vague answers, ask them to clarify and push for specifics. This is where a lot of candidates fall apart.

Ask what their particular contributions were to project X. How they used Y. What they learned from Z. You can do this with a whiteboard, or without. But please, don’t ask them to code right in front of you with zero prep.

If this is a sales, operations, or strategy role - don’t pretend to be an expert. Use this time trying to understand how this person can help you address company goals.

Let’s say your company OKR is to increase revenue by 15% next quarter. Ask how they’d approach the problem and how they’ve achieved similar results in the past.


© 2018 Neal Shyam