The interview of my dreams — Memoir of a first time tech-recruiter.

The bitter sweet perk about starting up is the opportunity to take up multiple roles. In the past one year, I had to do coding, testing, deployment, system administration, design, sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, regulatory compliance etc etc etc……..

I never expected to adorn the hat of a recruiter! and I must confess it was the most challenging role ever thrown at me.

Madurai is an educational hub, She has always been a cesspool of talent. Top notch talent is especially extremely abundant in my Alma mater — Thiagarajar College Of Engineering (TCE) and it was a no-brainer to scour for talent there.

I sought email approval from the college’s management , my beloved Principal Dr Abhay Kumar Sir and finally the placement officer to hire interns from TCE. Our Principal extended utmost support to our venture and readily agreed.

The eligibility criteria was very simple , there was none :D . Any CGPA, any branch!

We all have our 2 cents on how interviews should be conducted and I got an opportunity to conduct the “Interview Of My Dreams”

Here are a few short comings I saw in interviews:

  • We refer the internet every day even for the silliest of concepts, however most companies do not allow internet access. Say you forget the syntax for accessing a pointer in C, you’d be doomed in the screening round. I did not want this to happen in Deducely’s interview.
  • Some screening rounds pressurize candidates for time , this leads to nervousness which in turn leads to under-performance…. We virtually gave infinite time.

So Here are the rules that we laid for the interview’s screening round:

Rules for round 1

On seeing these rules, all the candidates were completely at ease and we had ensured everything in our capacity to alleviate the pressure.

We had created our own application oriented questions, we did not copy questions from the web so candidates will not be able to google the answer directly . We had 50 questions in total — based on C snippets, Linux commands, Java snippets and Javascript snippets.

We took all the candidates who had scored more than 30/50 to the next programming round.

A snap taken during the placement drive

I remember an interview which I could have easily cleared if the interviewer had been more friendly. It was my first time in using an online programming platform like hacker rank. I did not understand how the STDIN and STDOUT worked. I was pressed for time as these hacker rank like tests happen on the clock. I miserably failed in an extremely easy coding interview as I did not understand the platform. Our Utmost priority was to have the candidates at ease.

The coding round was very informal. Candidates were allowed to use the internet, they could relax and have a friendly chat with us. They could even bounce ideas off of us. We helped them when they were stuck. This ensured that the candidates could be 100% stress free. They were not under a clock.

We started with the basic hello world program and gradually scaled up the difficulty to programs like generating N prime numbers, Matrix traversal, pattern printing. Our intention was not to criticize, but to find out if the the interviewees were willing to learn when a helping hand was offered. At this point we became friends with the interviewees and they opened up about their interests , projects, hobbies etc….

Finally we threw something that the candidates have never done before. Posting a tweet using node JS. This involves a lot of parts

  1. installing nodeJS via the Linux terminal
  2. understanding the Twitter API (none of them had ever heard of an API)
  3. Coding in a completely new language NodeJS

This is a very simple yet unfamiliar task. The candidates learned how to use a REST API using the postman client, basics of node JS and with our help and with the internet they managed to find an area of a circle and tweet the results to twitter.

Even though I could not hire everyone who attended the interview , I gained a lot of new friends and hopefully they’ve gained a decent mentor.

Thus ended the interview of my dreams :)