If companies interviewed tech recruiters the way they interview programmers
(The inspiration for this post came from here: https://medium.freecodecamp.com/welcome-to-the-software-interview-ee673bc5ef6)
Interviewer: Hi, welcome. How are you, Miss…Candidate? Did I get your name right?
Candidate: (nervous and smiling) Hi, I’m good. Thank you. Yes, you have my name absolutely right!
Interviewer: Before we begin, do you need some refreshments? Water?
Candidate: (nervous and keen to get going) I’m actually good. Thank you for asking.
Interviewer: Great! Let’s get started. We are looking to hire a strong and passionate recruiter of software engineers who understands how the tech recruiting industry works. I have your resume and I see you have been working at companyA.com for about 5 years and have been recruiting software engineers for them, is that correct?
Candidate: Four and half years, but yeah, you are right. I have experience in identifying and cold-calling skilled, talented software engineers as well as scheduling interviews with said candidates. I also have great experience in sending out offers to the candidates and handling negotiations based on hiring team requirements.
Over the years, I have gained expertise in identifying and setting up interviews for a large pool of diverse software engineers, equipping me with the skills and experience to get the hiring requisitions closed quickly and decisively.
I also have experience working with applicant tracking systems such as JobDay and paleo. Experience with modern tracking systems allows me to ramp up quickly and be productive from day 1.
Interviewer: That sounds excellent. Here at companyB.com, we look for recruiters skilled in hiring software engineering candidates. Software engineering is hard to fill. Your skills are something that would add greatly to our recruiting team.
Candidate: (positively beaming) That sounds great. I have done some background study on companyB.com and personally believe in their mission and want to aid the recruiting team here as well.
Interviewer: Awesome! We are looking only for A players, who have a strong foundation in all required aspects of the job.
Candidate: Right…so let’s get started?
Interviewer: Yes, let’s get started, here I have some introductory questions tailored for the position. Question number one: Which excel function is used to determine the day of the week for a date?
Candidate: I’m sorry?
Interviewer: Would you like me to repeat the question? Which excel function is used to determine the day of….
Candidate: No, it’s fine. It just took me by surprise. I was expecting something more relevant to my day-to-day job. I believe the answer is WEEKDAY (). WEEKDAY () returns the day of the week for a particular date counting from Sunday.
Example: Let date at A1 be 12/30/2016
Interviewer: Excellent answer. Extra points for giving an example. Second question: What filter will you use, if you want more than two conditions or if you want to analyze the list using database function?
Candidate: I’m sorry. What? Is that a question?
Interviewer: Yes of course.
Candidate: I don’t really remember.
Interviewer: The answer is ADVANCED CRITERIA FILTER. Look it up after the interview. For some reason experienced recruiters can’t seem to answer this question as newbie ones. Anyway, moving on, third question: What is the use of LOOKUP function in Excel?
Candidate: Sorry to interrupt you but before we go on, can I ask what these question have to do with the actual job? The job description said you were looking for a recruiter for hiring software engineers, and so far you haven’t tested any of my recruiting abilities and instead focused only on spreadsheets.
Interviewer: Yes, I can see the confusion. You see, we are looking for the very best Recruiters, and it has been proven by major companies that the people that are able to do the job best have a very solid foundation in spreadsheets for quick applicant tracking
Candidate: Sure, I have used spreadsheets extensively but only as an aid to applicant tracking systems like paleo. I haven’t done extensive spreadsheet wizardry in years
Interviewer: Oh, so you do have experience with spreadsheets, right?
Candidate: Yes, but I don’t remember the minute details because in the grand scheme of actually hiring a candidate, that WEEKDAY() function is irrelevant. I can just look it up when I need it. Are you looking for generic spreadsheet wizards?
Interviewer: No, we are looking for recruiters for software engineers
Candidate: Great! So why don’t we test my recruiting abilities instead? I’m pretty sure you’d like to know how I handle various candidate situations right?
Interviewer: Oh yes, good idea. Let’s get to the written exercises then. Please follow me to the following whiteboard, and grab a marker, we are going to do a few recruiting case exercises to assess your skills.
Interviewer: Yes. Here is the situation:
“You are flooded with managing schedules for 1000 candidates simultaneously next week. How would your design your scheduling table and which excel functions would you use?”
Candidate: …that’s one THOUSAND candidates?
Interviewer: Yes, you are right
Candidate: Do you always have one recruiter handling schedules for one thousand candidate on spreadsheets?
Interviewer: Haha, of course not
Candidate: Then why would you ask such a question?
Interviewer: Because we want recruiters who can handle things at scale
Candidate: But but.…forget it, let’s do this. Do you have a spreadsheet handbook I could borrow to look up excel functions?
Interviewer: Oh, the goal of the exercise is to be able to write functions directly, here in the whiteboard and nothing else. If you need though, you can use pencil and paper.
Candidate: Wait, what? Why? Even for normal functions I always have a handbook or computer to support me, why would you test spreadsheet skills with no handbook at hand?
Interviewer: Right, studies from major companies have shown that–
Candidate: Forget it. Just give me a second ok? I think I will organize rows as candidates and columns as dates/times and use NOW, TODAY, WEEKNUM and the rarely used called YEARFRAC
Interviewer: Oh, no, that’s from the answer sheet in the “Cracking the Recruiting Interview: 150 Spreadsheet Questions and Solutions.”
Candidate: No, I mean, that is something I have used in the past for simple fractions
Interviewer: How would I know? I’m not a spreadsheet wizard like you.
Candidate: I know, I’m just pointing out the fact that this is a very well-known technique for fractions and I’d like to use it here
Interviewer: Right, but that’s good isn’t it? It means people prepared for interview questions like these.
Candidate: Yeah, scripted interview questions. Look, I’m really not comfortable answering questions on the spot, I usually have some time to figure out the best way to do a spreadsheet design based on the ATS system you use and the type of pipelines you follow.
Interviewer: I see. Well, there are other things we are looking in the candidates we are willing to hire. Have you won any recru-comps?
Candidate: I beg your pardon?
Interviewer: Yeah, you know, recru-comps, Recruiter Competitions. Those where you put a bunch of chat-bot candidates, throw some beverages and pizza, and invite recruiters everywhere to lock themselves down for 48 hours to see who can recruit the most chat bots. Sometimes they add free prizes to spice things up. Have you ever won any of those?
Candidate: No, I haven’t done any “recruiter competitions”.
Interviewer: That’s a shame, we are really looking for recru-comps winners.
Candidate: Please stop saying recru-comps.
Interviewer: Ok, by the way, how are your technical marketing skills?
Candidate: My technical marketing skills?
Interviewer: Yes, I mean, you know that we are a big company, but our team works as an independent startup, so sometimes we not only have our recruiters do the recruiting, but also do some technical marketing as well, and the perfect candidate would have excellent tech and marketing skills.
Candidate: So you just want the same person do the job of two people? What else are you looking in a candidate, someone to make those marketing presentations as well?
Interviewer: Yes! We call those full-package recruiters.
Candidate: Sigh… you mentioned something about the team working as a startup? What is that suppose to mean?
Interviewer: It means we do Agile. Everything is in a flat structure, except when it comes to salary and responsibilities. We have a Recruitment Master, that coordinates all the other recruiters in Sprints.
Candidate: Recruiter Master? That sounds fancy. The recruiter master must be a real spreadsheet guru right? Do we get assistance from him if we are stuck in a spreadsheet related issue or anything?
Interviewer: Oh, he actually only knows some in-depth stuff about recruiting. Doesn’t do much spreadsheeting himself. He’s British, so his accent is hard to grasp sometimes, but hey, he’s Agile certified, really good organizing other recruiters, and keeping track of what everyone’s recruiting pipe looks like.
Candidate: You can’t be serious. You are asking me about awesome spreadsheet skills in an interview, and my manager wouldn’t be able to even know what that is? Can you give me a good reason on why this is a good company to work for?
Interviewer: Well, here you will learn things you can’t learn in any other company, while still making a great impact in the world. You’ll do something meaningful, and you will never be bored. It’s an ultra high growth environment with multiple opportunities for rapid development in many areas.
Candidate: … you sell ads on a website.
Interviewer: Yes, we are changing the world, one click at a time.
Note to self: when we send a rejection letter to this candidate, be sure to include feedback that is too vague to be of any use to them, but will avoid any lawsuits.