Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Interviews... from the first-time interviewer's perspective

A couple of weeks ago, my company was looking for some new Designers/Developers. With one of the two people who would be in the interviews being out of the country, a coworker and myself were given the opportunity to sit in on the interviews. Our job was to listen to what these interviewees had to say, size them up, and then ask them questions from a more technical perspective (the main interviewer was more focused on design).

After all was said and done, I can say: As an interviewee, you should feel nervous during an interview and here are a few reasons why.

  1. A != B
    After reading through the interviewer's resumes, we had a pretty good idea of the questions these people should be able to answer. But when it came down to it, a number of these people could not articulate any knowledge about technologies they supposedly knew about. This does not only aggravate the interviewers, but it drastically decreases your chances at getting a job (read: Your-chances-of-getting-job% == 0). The use of Buzz-words in your resume may get you an interview but they won't get you a job.
  2. No Porfolio
    If your applying for a job that is design oriented (or any job where you have to build something), be prepared to show previous example of your work. Its like the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. If your a carpenter, have photos of personal projects you've worked on or things you've made for other companies. My team lead said it perfectly, even if the things you put in a portfolio are simple or your work on them was minimal, include the pieces in a portfolio and say exactly what you worked on. Interviewers realize people work in teams to get things done in an office, and attempting cover this fact will only get you in hot water later if you can't step up to the plate.
  3. Cannot produce a portfolio
    If we ask you for a portfolio of your work and you respond with "My computer crashed, so I can't give you one" perhaps its time to remember that we currently live in the internet age. If you don't have your portfolio online or at the very least backed up to an another source, we probably don't want you.

    The same goes with all your computer data. If you don't have at least one backup, your asking to lose it.
  4. Over-compensating on your resume
    While its true that interviewers don't have a lot of time to flip through a stack of resumes, over-doing your resume to stand out can be just as detrimental. One applicant sent us a resume with white text on a black background and different sections on a weird teal-colored background. While we did notice the resume, we thought it was gawdy and unprofessional and passed it up.

After a number of interviews where a number of these issues surfaced, our mood begins to degrade as bad interviewees continue to aggravate us (mainly due to the wasted time put in). So interviewees be warned.

The "blame" for bad interviewers cannot be solely placed on the applicants (or lack thereof). There are a few things businesses can do to mitigate the number of unwanted applicants.
  1. Removing ambiguity from job postings
    One applicant we had for our Designer/Developer job was looking to design wicked code. In the create sweet classes that do great things sort of way. I myself would have assumed a "Designer/Developer" job title in addition to the job description should have been good enough to weed people like this out. I guess it just goes to show that when we design webpages to be as dis-ambiguous and simple to read as possible, we should to do the same with job postings.
  2. Job opening deadlines
    As with attempting to sell products on the internet where people are more inclined to buy things if they feel products are in limited (see my Making Them Click post to read more), if you want people to apply for a job, attach a deadline to the posting. Postings that get left on webpages for months and months make your company look bad because it gives the impression that you cannot keep jobs of that kind filled. And if you cannot keep a job filled, why is that? Too stressful? Not paying well enough? These are just a few of the ideas that people may get about your company.
  3. Predetermined list of questions
    I'm sure seasoned interviewers probably wouldn't need a list of standard questions printed out in front of them (simply because they already know them all like the backs of their hands) but as a newbie, it made our lives a heck of a lot easier for a number of reasons.
    1. Keeping you on track
    2. Ensuring ahead of time you are asking the questions that you really need asked
    3. Ensuring you don't forget anything during the interview
    4. Convenient way to remember things after the interview
    Many standard lists of interview questions can be found online if you are not sure where to start.

I'm sure there are many other pieces of advice seasoned interviewers may be able to give, but these are the few I got from the one day of interviews I got to go through. Hopefully I will be able to perform more in the future.

I would really love to see what people think about my blog, so please leave comments below :) Thanks for reading.


  1. Having a good set standard questions and keeping the responses on file are a great way to shielding yourself of any problems. This is specially important if the person complains to the government saying that they were not hired due to discrimination. I learned that in HR class haha. Good post.

    1. Thanks Dan. Ill have to remember that one for the future.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.