Jimi Wikman is an experienced and much appreciated consultant that have worked as team lead, scrum master and project manager for many years. He is also a popular work process designer and educator with a specialty in the Atlassian products. With more than 25 years practical experience as a frontend developer, graphic designer, tester and requirement analyst he knows the pain and pleasures of what the teams face on a daily basis.
5 interviewer tips - for landing a senior employee
We have all been in those interviews where the interviewer completely botch the interview. Weird IQ tests, being asked to do design or code on the fly or questions that are irrelevant to the work at hand. Sometimes it may even be that the interviewer is completely the wrong type for the interview and so on. In this article I will list my five top interviewer tips for interviewers to land that awesome employee contract for a senior IT or design person.
Tip #1 - You are the one that have to sell the position
Surprisingly many interviewers have the attitude that they are doing the potential employee a favor by letting them come to an interview. This may be true for other types of work, but professional IT people are in very high demand and for a senior person it really is their market, not yours.
So if you come from another field where there are more people to hire than there are positions, you need to adjust that mindset. Otherwise, you will have a very hard time attracting people or worse, keeping them.
People that are junior or new to the field often bend over backwards to land a job at a prestige filled company, but most seniors have already filled their CV/Portfolio and are done with the backfilling process where you endure crappy jobs just to build a CV/portfolio.
These people know that they can afford to be picky, both in terms of job descriptions, workplace satisfaction and of course salary. You often compete with a dozen or more other companies for a senior employee.
So rather than asking them to prove to you that they have what it takes, you need to prove to them that you are worthy of their time. That is quite different compared to dealing with junior employees or recruitment in other fields.
Tip #2 Don't waste their time
Unless you are offering someone's dream job that you know they will do anything to secure, don't waste their time. Asking a senior employee to do code tasks or design tasks to "prove" their worth is a sure way to turn many applicants away. The only people that will put up with that kind of nonsense are people that are unemployed or are still building up a CV/Portfolio.
If you are looking for a senior employee, they will rarely put in extra work just to get to an interview. They have other options that don't require them to work for free anymore. Besides, they can easily pay someone a few bucks to do that assignment for them anyway, so it is kind of pointless from a validation perspective anyway.
If you want to verify someone's skill, then just have another senior developer in the interview and have them go over some code or design together in a think aloud fashion. The other senior employee will pretty easily spot if the person know what they are talking about or not.
Just be mindful that a lot of people get brain freeze during interviews, so this should not be your only interview point.
IQ tests and personality tests are not uncommon either and I would strongly advise you not to use those. Most people don't like these kinds of test and they are likely to drop you as a potential employer because of that. They also do not really give you any information that is beneficial for your decision to employ or not.
I kind of enjoy doing these, but that is because I already know my IQ is high and I have done a lot of personality tests so I know what to expect from them. Others don't like this kind of surprises as much though...
If you want to have a psychological test that is actually beneficial, then you should look into the dark trinity traits, but then you are diving into a whole different set of pitfalls and problems.
Tip #3 - Do your homework
Just as the person you interview will do their homework to look up your company and it's values, you should also do your homework. I don't mean that standard homework to make sure the person you employ is not a hateful bigot or a criminal, you should also try to find out as much as you can about the person.
Introverts and extroverts are quite different in terms of what they need and how the information you present should be done. Introverts often prefer more structure and information as bullet points with clear decisions and distinctions. Extroverts often like conversation and more visual information and so on.
Some people are social hotspots and can chat up rocks, while others are less comfortable and prefer others to lead the conversation. Knowing what type you are meeting allow you to design the meetings accordingly.
Knowing things like hobbies, passions and peeves can help you connect far easier, even with more closed people. It also offers a way to make the person you are interviewing to feel more familiar and comfortable.
If you have someone close to you that know the person you are about to interview, talk to them and ask them about the person beforehand. This will help you tremendously in your interview.
Tip #4 - Represent your culture
I have seen this a few times when the person doing the interview is not a good representative of the company culture. It can be that you have a company that is all about the people in the company and making a difference in the world that has a recruiter that look and behave like a sneaky car salesman. Or it can be a sales oriented company that is all about winning and celebrating victories where the recruiter is all about caring and making the world a better place.
The problem you face if your style does not match the company culture will most likely happen later in the process where the potential employee will meet other people in the organization. Or it will happen after employment which often lead to that person leaving very soon, or become a source of negativity in the work place.
So make sure you adjust your interview technique and your look to fit the culture and values of the company you represent. As you are often the first point of contact, your impression will be crucial in landing the right kind of employees that will fit into the company's values and culture.
Tip #5 - Don't brag about hiring people to fill a quota
It's not that common for people like me that are white males, but I have seen it and heard about this way too many times. No one want to be told that the reason you are called to an interview is because of your age, gender, race or your sexuality. Also, no one like to hear that they did not get a job because another applicant was of the preferred "type" and you were not.
I know that it is generally a good idea to make sure you have many types of people in a company and I love working with people from all walks of life, but never, ever, discuss this during interviews! It is offensive and in many countries even illegal to discriminate in such way.
If you have two applicants that are equal in qualifications and you like both, then it is up to you which one you want to hire and adding more diversity is almost always a good idea. If however one applicant have better qualifications and you still hire someone else based on other things than their qualifications, then you are digging your own grave.
Not only are you discriminating people, but you are also making the life of the person you hire difficult as other employees will notice that that person is less qualified than her role demands. This leads to friction and envy from other employees and the person you hired will suffer more from that feeling of being a fraud and not good enough.
Be fair and hire the best applicant, regardless of other qualifications not related to work. There are plenty of amazing people of all "types" out there, if that is your goal.
Don't be a bigot.
This is not a tip, it's common sense. Or at least it should be. I know a lot of people that feel that they must change their name to get work due to bigotry. So if you discard applicants based on name or how they appear in a photo, then you are an idiot. And a bigot.
Not only will you must definitely miss out on some amazing employees, you also put constraints on your business because you will miss so many amazing points of views and experiences.
I have worked with people from all over the world and it has been the best experience you can imagine. I have worked with Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and other religions. I have worked with people from all political affiliations as well as people from the whole rainbow of sexuality (almost). I have worked with disabled people that have taught me more about my work than I could ever have imagined.
I have worked with people from simple and poor backgrounds and people from rich backgrounds. I have worked with people that could not read a book if their life depended on it, but they can build anything with their hands. I have worked with people that could not handle a tool if their life depended on it, but who could solve any problem with their mind.
Some of the most amazing people I have worked with have been from other countries such as Lebanon, Morocco, Vietnam, Syria, Germany, Croatia and India to mention a few. I have learned so much from these people that goes beyond work and as someone as work in a male dominated field I constantly have my mind blown by amazing women that can see things differently than I can.
I can tell you from experience that being afraid to the point where you get prejudiced is normal. We all fear what we don't know or understand. The best way to break that is to take a leap of faith and get to know the things you fear and more often than not you will find that the prejudice you have are wrong.
So don't be a bigot.