Thursday, April 18, 2013

My first interview experience


So I recently took my first technical interview. I sat on the other side of the table, and interviewed a candidate for a good 50 minutes. All in all, an experience in itself.

I realized why hiring is so tough and painful in startups - the amount of time you spend on hiring say 2 guys, will be simply huge, and given your team size, might be a complete drain on your resources.
There were lots of thoughts raging in my mind, regarding tips I would like to give myself for an interview, so I will try to document prominent lines of thinking here:

1) Bullshit with care 

You might realize that the interviewer doesn't know everything about a particular question, but he still might know something about it. You can try bullshitting your way inside, however, you try to bluff wrong about something he knows and you are gone down the drain.

2) Before answering the question, think from the interviewer's point of view

Usually, the interviewer wouldn't remember all the details about the question. In fact, he might be impressed if you give him an answer which is correct, which he hasn't thought of yet or that he wasn't expecting.
So before you answer, take your time, try to think what might be a good follow up question from the question currently being asked.
Try to think of something you would like to be asked about, from that question.
The more you lead them to asking questions you anticipate, the better.

3) The interviewer is also human, know when to stop
Sometimes, you might be done, but there will be no expression on the interviewer's face. Know when to stop answering. Keep the interviewer(s) engaged, as much as possible.

4) Listen carefully

And ask for clarifications, as many sensible ones as you can think of. No interviewer appreciates a candidate acting smart and answering non sense because he wasn't listening

5) Value the importance of time, both yours and the interviewer's

You have limited time with an interviewer. One goal is to maximize the difference between the good things he knows about you before and after the interview, while minimizing the amount of bad impression formed during it. There is no real metric to measure the two, but I hope the idea helps.