“Technical Interview with a Human Face” Victoria Pridatko

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Victoria Pridatko is a well-known expert in the field of “positive” IT personnel management; she can often be found at IT conferences dedicated to management. This year she is one of the headliners of the conference of HR-specialists in IT "Find the Answer" in St. Petersburg.

We publish her report from the previous St. Petersburg Software Project Management Conference , where she made a presentation in the personnel management section.

Presentation of the report:


Report video
(it turned out of focus):

Text of the report:

One of my favorite phrases, I often repeat it, because ... "captain evidence" ...
First impression you can’t create a second time

The first impression is very important and often the candidates make the impression of the company in the first interview. If it was negative, it will be very difficult to convince him otherwise.

Why You Need It? Where can this knowledge come in handy?

The more pleasant the conversation with you, the better your reputation. The IT market is so small and when you communicate it is very important to create the right impression.
The better your reputation, the more money and choice. When you are “known,” in a good sense of the word, when people look at you, I know people who work in companies, applicants want to get an interview with them, I’ll tell you why to them later. The more you are popular (for HR), the more people want to get to you, the more companies will offer you. It doesn’t matter whether they are hunting you or simply being invited as consultants, you simply have more choices, respectively more money, as a rule. The better you conduct the interviews, the more offers you have accepted.
Often, PMs say this - recruiters cannot find anyone for us, so we cannot create teams when I come to them for a technical interview and watch how they conduct them, I understand why it is so difficult to find people who would agree to be interviewed.
A good interview is a step towards the manager, if you are not a manager yet, but want to become one, you need to be able to interview.

  • Interviewing is communication. We’ll talk about this today,
  • How this is happening now - I will talk about my experience.
  • Mistakes in the interviews I saw
  • What are the signs of a classy interview, in my opinion,
  • Well, who / what can help?

Interview with HR.

In Ukraine, we have now ... (I can’t speak for Russia), but in Ukraine now they are taking very sympathetic people from HR, I’m not afraid of the word — the sexy girls who conduct the interview, they lure candidates in every possible way ...

And immediately, as a rule, there are two interviews with HR and a technical one and often a candidate, he comes and relaxes very much in the first interview and the second interview is very different from the first one - a technically strong specialist comes in and very often technical specialists want not so much to conduct an interview how much to show yourself. Unfortunately, in companies this process is not always built and technical people are not agreed on when to conduct interviews - they are simply torn out of the project, and as you know, programmers work in a stream, and it is difficult for them to pull out their stream, because then it is very difficult to return there, unfortunately, not all companies take this into account and, accordingly, the feelings of a technical interviewer are as follows:

  • Hell, interview again;
  • Well, tell me what you know;
  • Yeah, you don’t know this, bugg - again, the recruiters invited the dumbasses;
  • But I know this and this, therefore - I am PEPPER!

I somehow had experience, for a very long time we were looking for a javista in one company, the situation with the Javists is generally awful, I know the situation with the Javists in St. Petersburg is better, in Ukraine it’s a complete ahtung, and so the recruiters found a cool javist, they invited me for an interview, it was super, they kissed him in all places, he came and he was interviewed by another javist who needed to assert himself, as a result this javist who came said: "Well, what are we going to do here ... to talk or to talk?" This impression killed him, then how he was met by a technical specialist. Impressions were appropriate. The worst thing is that it is then broadcast further.

Why can’t you do this?
Because often during an interview people often make up an opinion about the whole company. As you know, people come to the COMPANY, and leave the MANAGER. Well, during the interview, you measured ... left with the feeling that you are cool, and the candidate left with the feeling that he is terrible, what will he tell people? The more such interviews you have, the less candidates you have, unfortunately.

What are the main mistakes:
  • Show off
  • Cleverness and chatter - when people are competent in a certain topic, they are inclined to develop this topic, and as a result of the interview does not turn into an interview, but into the interviewee’s story about his favorite question. Do you want to tell about yourself - go to the conference and tell me, what is the problem?
  • Indifference is also a common pattern when technical interviewers sit tiredly, their whole posture indicates that they are terribly bored and do not understand what they are doing here ... Again, guys, it very much depends on how it is organized in companies. I know companies where this process is organized cool, where people conducting technical interviews - they are paid for it, this is such an individual approach - you can pay, you can not.
  • Stress interview , this is the concept of a panel interview, when a person comes, there are five interviewers and they take turns ... I met an interview when 5 people are sitting and at the same time it’s in a very friendly atmosphere. By "stress interview" I meant when 5 or 3 people were sitting and they were wetting you.
  • Being late , again - let's respect the candidates, we often tear people out of the project out of the company, we take away their working time and are late ourselves ... My other position is that if a person comes to you at lunch time, feed him lunch. For the company it’s a penny of money - to offer him a sandwich, and not just coffee tea. Or the candidate came in the evening, conditionally, if the working day ends at 18:00, and you invited him at 19:00, it is clear that he came to you from his company hungry. Guys! A simple sandwich does wonders! You won’t believe how much people’s impression of you changes.
  • Lack of feedback- we conduct a technical interview, then we believe that it is the responsibility of the recruiter (I also think so) - but the feedback from the technical interview should be given by the person who conducts it. What does feedback give us? When we call a person, it doesn’t matter whether we took it or not, we can tell him that we liked it, that in our opinion it can be improved, this feeling of gratitude that arises in people after you told them is just not than an incomparable sensation. They will remember this and you will even be surprised at what moments in a good sense it will pop up to you. There is always something to praise, there are no people who generally rummage in anything - otherwise we would not invite this person for an interview. There is always something to praise and it is very important to say what was good and what can be improved and what is bad. HR-s have such a cunning expression “development zone”, not that everything is bad there, you just have a “development zone” there. Help the person in what you understand better.

It happens that you looked for a person for a long time, hunters, finally invited him for an interview and then ask him a question: “why do you want to work in our company”? And this is such a “cognitive dissonance." Track resources on which the candidate comes to you - this is important. This is such a standard question - people don’t think about what they ask. If you are hunting a person, the interview process should be different; questions should be structured differently. I will someday make a separate presentation on this subject. This is an important point.

What consequences?
  • Do not spit in the well . Sometimes it happens that the person whom you interview can then interview you. I had such an incident in my life - I had a lot of acquaintances and suppose we interviewed the candidate not very well, and then you get to him for an interview and he says, yeah, I will talk to you now ... now I remember how you interviewed me.
  • Be nice or leave ... As I already said, it is very important to leave a positive impression with people, the technical competence of the person who conducts the interview is important, but his goodness (in the good sense of the word - his respectful attitude, his “acceptance of another person”) - no less important than technical competence, and sometimes even more.
  • The person you interview may turn out to be your manager or counselor in the future. The market is not predictable - people grow in different ways ... they move to different companies and, accordingly, they all know each other.

Which is better?
It is better to communicate with the candidate, as with a potential colleague and a pre-pleasant person. Imagine that a person fell into your team and how would you communicate with an existing member of the team? Perhaps you would communicate well with him, because you work with him every day. It doesn’t matter whether you take a person or not, remember that you can intersect with a person in the market and any harsh judgments may not be appropriate.

Ask him out of a desire to learn something new, and not out of a sense of superiority. All people know something we don’t know, we can’t know everything. And if we conduct an interview with such sincere listening, when we really listen to a person, and to understand that we are listening very easily - this is visible in our eyes, in our pose. Even if people do not speak sign language, they still feel whether they are listening or not. You will be surprised, but you can learn a lot when you know how to listen. Not only does this cause a pleasant sensation in people, but sometimes even after the interview you catch yourself thinking - what was the interviewee talking about? I need to write something in the report ... Therefore, try to listen to the person during the interview, you will be surprised, but it may be interesting to you.
Ask a person what is important to him? This question often causes genuine feedback from people. You can learn a lot from the person that is important to him and it may be important for you in the project. Then you will understand how it is better to motivate him, how to treat him better.

Ask what kind of people he likes to work with. This is a very important question, because again, if you conduct an interview in a very friendly atmosphere, he will tell you which people he is interested in working with, and you understand that your project does not have such people and this will also be an indicator for you. I am always for an honest interview, I am for telling the truth. You can tell a person about the project, about people, how they differ from his expectations and let him choose whether it suits him or not.

Take people who adore what they do. In IT, they are very fond of signiers, they are crazy for them, they are outbid. Some signiers do not like what they do. Yes, they are signiers, they are respected in the market, they get good money, but they cannot stand what they do. Sometimes they come, star, go, and thus often move around companies. I know people who are not so megacompetent at the moment, but due to the fact that they are interested and love what they do - they can very quickly become messengers.

Coincidence in values ​​and ability to interact can become more important than knowledge. Skills and knowledge are the things you can get. If you do not coincide in values, it may already be at a deeper level. The conflict at the value level can be resolved, but it is not very easily resolved ...

First you need to find out the motivation of the candidate, and then sell the company's benefits. In each company, differently, but often technical and HR interviews are held together. What does hr usually do? he usually sells the company - we have insurance, we have the like, without asking what is interesting to the candidate. All outsourcing, and even grocery, are approximately equal in terms of compensation. In Ukraine, everything looks approximately the same. But not for all people, for example, insurance is important. It happens that a person is told about insurance, and he asks: “do you have people in the team who play basketball?” - he is looking for whether he has common interests with the team. Listen to what a person is interested in and sell him what is interesting to him. Be sure to find out what people in your team are interested in and ask the candidate. When I look at a resume - I pay attention to what are they keen on, I ask a lot, then in the team I talk about it, then a completely different impression is formed among the people in the team. Tell the person about the team in advance. I am for the interview to be held with the participation of team members. When you do a little interview interview and tell about this person ... you will be surprised what a good atmosphere for the interview will be.

We sell the company in a positive way - this is understandable, if you do not like your company - bring down from it, what are you doing here?

When you ask a candidate about achievements, specify who can confirm this.

Show the office, workplace. This point is often overlooked. Where a person is immediately led to - usually right to the meeting room, they talk with him for an hour, and usually they drag out him ... then they take him out through the reception back. I don’t think it’s a mega-commercial secret - to show the office, to show the project in which you are participating. The atmosphere in the company where I come to work is very important for me. It is important for me to go into the room and feel "how it is." Bring a person to the project, show where someone is sitting with you, even if he will not work for you, he can recommend people. If a person likes the company, he will recommend people there. PR does not work if a person does not feel this. Your external image should correspond to the internal state, the state inside the company. Show the person what you yourself like in the company, what causes your emotions. People they respond to emotions, they go for it. When they see that you like it, they like it too.

Interview with humor and energy, there are many UG in competing companies . If it is possible to conduct an interview with humor - it goes well, because it creates a positive feeling among the candidates. People constantly compare, in that company there was such an interview, in that one, if your interview will be different from others this can give you bonuses. My favorite phrase is “don't be a dull shit - be a mischievous poop!”.

Comments from Seryoga Berezhnoy
  • Openness and honesty - absolutely agree with him;
  • Elevator pitch about how cool your project is - relatively speaking, this is such a short story about the five main points of your project;
  • Unusual questions - how many letters will fit into a mailbox the size of a fret sized viburnum? Unusual questions help to reveal the candidate, you begin to communicate with him humanely.
  • Listen, listen, listen ...
  • Do not teach - people do not like to be taught and brainwave.
  • Do not name the roles - I’m such a director there, I’m the senior project manager there - if it is customary in your company - it’s not a question, but usually, if you name the roles, this already creates such an atmosphere when people think what’s with this dude I will behave this way, but with this otherwise. And when you do not have roles, it turns out that you have a more sincere, equal, unofficial atmosphere and in fact openness and honesty at the interview, it causes openness and honesty on the part of the candidates, it’s important for us to understand what kind of person is in reality, and not what is his mask. Often, lyuli defend themselves, and not because they are bad, but because they are used to going for interviews with a mask and you won’t know what kind of person this is until you look under the mask.

Who conducts interviews well?
  • Tandem techie and empath. Empath is an open person and he understands other people's emotions.
  • PM, Timlid + architect or signier. Often PM or leads already slightly depart from the technical part and are invited for an interview by an architect or signier. But architects and signiers are also different. In short, if you have an empath architect and not an empath, take empath.
  • Signiers who want to grow - they usually ask for an interview themselves. They understand that this is a step into managers and they study, read on the Internet - how to ask questions. I think this is a good category of specialists who will conduct interviews well.

Open questions.
When a person says what he is doing, ask him, “how?” When you ask this question and the person answers, it means that he understands exactly how he does it, because he knows what is inside. “Why is this important for you?” - this question is also important because it reveals the inner values ​​of a person and, understanding the values ​​of a person, it will be easier for you to communicate later with him.
  • Tell us what you like about yourself? This question allows you to learn more about the person.
  • What kind of people do you like to work with? - I already spoke about it.
  • What is the most interesting question you were asked at the interview? This is a tough question, because by collecting answers to it you can improve your interview .
  • What company did you like to be in the interview for and why? This is such an unobtrusive study of the market of competitors. And that gives you the opportunity to improve your interview.
  • What is important for you, what do you want to work with? I recently wrote an article on my blog so angry. I believe that always in a team you can divide the work so that everyone has a piece that is interesting to him. Find out what is interesting to the person and give him this piece of work and then he will not leave you.

Attracting the best people from the market through interviews

Interview with a professional or a person known in the market. If you have a person in the company who is known in the market, who speaks at conferences, local communities, etc. - invite him to an interview, because people go to people and it is important for them to talk with someone they respect.

Expertise and dedication of the interviewee. People go to people! There are people experts who just like being experts, but they are not passionate about what they do when they have the expertise and dedication — what Sasha Orlov, Slava Pankratov, Sergey Berezhniy have — when they like what they do. I believe that it is very important to do what you like.

The atmosphere of the interview. When you talk about a project - you can always see in fact - whether or not you are probing from the project. When you like a project, you talk about it with great love and people feel it. It’s a good situation when a person understands that he can’t cope with the technical part of the interview, but he wants to work for you like that! People can recommend other people to you, or they can come later and ask what should I learn in order to work with you later?

Acquaintance with the team, presentation of the workplace. For example, Vasya is snowboarding here, and Ilya plays fun, such small things help a person to relax in an interview and get closer to the interviewers.

Hobbies are also obviously an important thing.

In my opinion, if you conduct an interview in the evening, then you can have a beer . It happens that you see a person and you already clearly understand that you will take it and you will see interest from a person, why not consolidate such communication, relatively speaking, skip a glass with him in a nearby cafe. The interview succeeded if friends tell you about beer. You probably only talked with a person for an hour, but for a person this can leave a lasting impression and you yourself may be surprised how many positive feedbacks can come about you and how many people may want to work on your project.

I partially told, here are all my contacts - you can ask questions.

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