How we think about the phone screen interview

Stephen Meriwether
Aug 10 · 4 min read

We’re building Qwell, a better way to book medical appointments online. We’re hiring (as of August 2019)! See our job posting here: http://bit.ly/2KnSxcB. If you have any thoughts or feedback please send us a note at “hello at qwell.com”.

Software development is a marathon not a sprint (credit: http://www.arborinvestmentplanner.com/slow-and-steady-wins-the-race-in-investment-management/)

Here at Qwell we want to be more thoughtful in our Software Developer interview process. We’ve all been on the other side of the table, nervous, worrying that we won’t have the perfect answers to whatever questions the interviewer might ask. But what does this really prove? That we’ve studied all the possible interview questions? That we can come up with well crafted answers on our feet?

We believe great Software Developers are creative, kind, thoughtful, honest, and excellent communicators.

Building software is a marathon not a sprint. (In my best Malcolm Gladwell voice) Software development is a sport for tortoises, why are we interviewing for hares! We want to build an interview process that selects for candidates whose skills more closely align with those required to write great software, understanding the context and coming up with thoughtful solutions. Below you’ll find the questions we’ll ask during the phone screen and why we’re asking them. Spend some time thinking about your answers, remember we’re looking for creativity, depth, and honesty, be ready to have deeper conversations about any of them.

Our Phone Screen Questions

What do you like about Software Development?

Software development is a creative process and it’s hard to do it well if you don’t enjoy it. We want to know why you decided to choose it as your career. What about it excites you when you wake up in the morning? We all have lives outside of work but we also want you to care about the work you do.

Think about someone in your life who has little-to-no software experience, how would you explain what programming is to that person?

Translating information back and forth between technical and non-technical folks is a big part of the job. Explaining the what and why of what we’re working on to business stakeholders ensures that we’re always aligned. If “programming” is too broad think of a specific example and explain that. We’re looking at how you communicate and your ability to translate technical details, the execution matters more than the specifics of the question.

Think about a time when you received negative feedback and you took steps to learn/improve/grow. What was the feedback and what steps did you take?

Giving and receiving feedback is a crucial component of growing in your career. Receiving negative feedback can be really hard but your response to it is also really important. We don’t care in what context the feedback was given, it could’ve been from a family member, friend, or coworker, and we don’t care if it has nothing to do with software. We’re asking you to be a bit vulnerable here, we aren’t looking for “I was working too hard”. We don’t care about what happened to warrant the feedback, we’ve all been there, we care that you learned from it. Giving an honest answer here will go a long way.

What are you hoping to learn in your next job?

Think about what you are looking to get out of your next gig and be ready to talk about it. There is a chance that Qwell isn’t a good fit (for example we aren’t looking to build a mobile app if that’s on your list)and that’s okay! We also deeply care about your personal growth. Part of creating a fulfilling workplace is making sure you are learning the things you want to learn so we want to hear what those things are!

Teach me something about one of your passions or hobbies?

We want you to have a life outside of work! What is something you spend time doing: playing video games, reading, dragon boat racing?? It doesn’t matter what it is. We also want to understand how you teach something to someone else. We all bring something different to the table and your ability to teach what you know to your peers plays a big part in the success of the team.

Outtro

We don’t want the interview process to be a scary endeavor, we want you to come prepared and do really well. We can’t promise that these questions will never change, as we talk to more people, receive feedback, and learn more we might refine or come up with better questions but we will do our best to update this post at that happens. Best of luck!

Qwell Engineering

Stephen Meriwether

Written by

Programmer

Qwell Engineering

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