3 things to do to perfect your interview process. But it’s not easy to do!

Image attribution: Vivek Nambiar (https://www.flickr.com/photos/vighi/)

I’ve been running Geektrust for 2 years now and been fortunate to see how recruitment works inside-out at a lot of companies. A majority of these companies are small to medium sized firms. Many of them ask us for inputs on how to better their recruitment and interview process. So for the sake of all those who are interested, here are 3 things you need to do during your interview process. However, they are not easy to do.

  1. Check for skill

Duh! But it’s amazing how many companies get this part wrong. Skill is not the ability to answer a question which can be found through a simple google search. Skill is a reflection of how well candidates use the expertise they have. I may know Java but I may not use it well because I have not explored/understood how to use it well.

Tendulkar and I can hold a bat but our skills vary a teeny-weeny bit. If you’re going to test Tendulkar by asking him what is Afridi’s average, he may not get through but I will!. Similarly checking if your candidate knows the syntax for a particular operation in Python is not the best way to assess a candidate.

For developers, skill test should typically be done through writing some code (with access to google, StackOverflow etc..). This can be done during the interview process or earlier. A platform like Geektrust helps assess coding skills the right way, since we look at how well thought-through the code is and not just whether the output is right or wrong.

2. Can they get stuff done? How well, and how quickly?

Now it gets interesting. How do you figure this out? Companies that do this well are the ones that do the best hiring. They are able to hire good candidates because they know how to check for this one aspect. Most companies will stop at the previous stage saying skill is not good enough.

The problem is that they would’ve done an incorrect job of checking for skill. I have numerous anecdotes of interviewers asking candidates questions on things the interviewer is currently working on (which they themselves wouldn’t have known a month ago), and then deem the candidate not good enough. I have seen this consistently during my time at ThoughtWorks and now at Geektrust.

Can they get stuff done is a hard thing to assess. It’s not just about checking whether this person will do the job, but also about how well and how much time they’ll take to do it. How do you figure this out in a short interview process? This takes skill from the interviewer and also comes with experience. But primarily you are looking for how motivated they are to complete tasks, what drives their motivations, and how resourceful they are. The ability to analyze this effectively will separate the companies who are able to hire effectively, from the ones who can’t seem to find good candidates.

3. Will they learn on the job?

This is a function of how curious they are. Many companies don’t check for this but it’s a very important aspect IMO. And this is not too hard to do. Understanding in depth what they’ve done in the past will give you a good insight into this. Most people who have an inclination to learn would’ve done something similar in the past. Of-course this is not black and white as some companies don’t encourage their employees to learn, and don’t provide the flexibility to do so. And it’s not enough to check if they have a github account. You need to probe to see how they’ve learned within the context of their job. What small things did they do to perform well or add a little bit of innovation or show drive etc..

The primary challenge with interviewing is that it’s hard to spot skill but it’s easy to spot mistakes. This is an extremely natural bias (list of cognitive biases) and therefore candidates who have good skill, can get stuff done, and are good learners, get looked over because they could not answer a few random skill check questions.

So you end up not selecting Tendulkar to the team because he didn’t know Afridi’s average. :)

[About the author — Krishnan is co-founder at Geektrust.

Geektrust is built for technologists to connect with remarkable job opportunities.]