Interview for interviewers

    You are familiar with the situation that you left after an interview in a serious company, but do you feel like a schoolboy who failed a control with a stern teacher? Or you are familiar with the situation that the candidate never asked you a single question during the whole interview, but why: either he is not interested, or he has already decided everything for himself, or was just embarrassed?

    Interview - a mutual process. The company is looking for an engineer, an engineer is looking for a company. However, the balance is clearly biased towards “the company is looking for”, despite the acute personnel shortage in the market.

    In this article I will consider what problems now exist, and offer my own version of the improvement: cross-interview.

    What does a typical job interview look like? Strangers ask the candidate technical questions: sometimes good and on the topic, sometimes difficult, sometimes provocative, sometimes meaningless. In the process of questions, the interviewer tries to develop topics that are interesting to him, to build a conversation, to talk to a person. It turns out? Well, in different ways. Sometimes everything goes smoothly and interestingly, sometimes the conversation does not go on. Then some obviously ask the candidate to ask their questions about the company, the processes, the team. And someone completely misses this part.

    What problems are clearly visible here? They all stem from the attitude of “I ask - you answer” and “I know, and you prove it”, which are the standard of the industry.

    1. We need to smooth this process with all our strength: do not press, do not treat mistakes too critically, help somewhere. And we lose the opportunity to see a very important skill: how does the candidate know how to raise questions, how does he communicate in the role of “I ask”? How does one behave in a strong position?
    2. Lost human appearance of the interviewer. We humans want to work with people. And now the interviewer appears before us as an all-knowing lump, closed from the weakness of ignorance. Does this kind of contact help? No, it does not help
    3. We lose important information about the qualities of the candidate. After all, we do not know what correct questions he can be asked. And we go to the touch. Therefore, we try to extract information about his experience and past projects from him.

    Why not turn the technical interview into a quiz? First I ask, then they ask me. And so in a few iterations. One difference from the quiz: there will be no losers. And there will be a strict and transparent business process.

    This concept can be called "cross-interview".


    Preparation may consist of the following items:

    1. The company prepares a small tutorial as a candidate to prepare for the interview. Rules of. A small list of technologies, products, approaches that the company uses and can discuss: they are usually even in the vacancy. Outlines how much time is allocated for cross-interview. It should be clearly stated that this training is mandatory.
    2. For his part, the candidate prepares several questions for a given timing, which he considers appropriate for this company: by languages, by processes, “how would you make the Uber architecture”, riddles and puzzles. Everything that he considers necessary and useful for himself

    Now it's up to the interview itself.

    Benefits for the company

    Imagine that a person will come and ask your engineers technical questions, interviewing them as their future team members. Unthinkable, isn't it? In fact, this approach may have several interesting strengths.

    First, now you have a lot more information about the candidate. What questions did he prepare: how deep and interesting are they? What kind of discussion do they create? Questions were in the subject? What is his professional experience he invested in them?

    Secondly, as now, we put the situation on its head, the candidate asks questions, and the interviewer is guided on the go and answers. Alternating positions should help relieve excess stress. After all, this is exactly what the conversations “for life” do in a free atmosphere. We will be able to see how he can accept different answers from other people, from “I don't know” to a deep understanding of the subject. How to answer additional questions? What clues does he give? Each of his questions is another reason to talk and make contact.

    Thirdly, such an approach keeps the interviewers in the tone. After all, they will have to answer technical questions and learn new things. You can no longer simply come with a list of 5-year-old questions and thoughtlessly chase candidates for him. The interviewer is the face of your company.

    Candidate Benefits

    Now you have access to new options, how to express yourself. Take advantage of them!

    Firstly, now you can prepare your list of questions in which you are strong. Have you been doing something for many years? Include this item in the questions. You recently read about a new feature / standard / etc - ask the interviewer: what does he know about such a topic, what is his opinion? Properly worked out questions will show your professional interests and skills. The main thing is to focus on the subject area and technology of the company.

    Secondly, you are ready for half the assignments. This knowledge will remove excess stress, to make communication easier. Now you are equal to the interviewer: they ask you, you ask. Two engineers are talking. It makes no sense to close.

    Thirdly, you have a unique opportunity to check your future colleagues. Do they want to work with strong engineers? Well, then you want it too! Suddenly they ask you about the spreading of a binary tree, because they don’t know anything else? You have the right to check. You can also check how normal it is for a person to get into a situation where he doesn’t know something, how he is looking for answers with you. You will see a demo version of future discussions of tasks and other working moments. You will understand how comfortable and pleasant you are in such a company.

    General benefits 

    It must be said that the conflict potential will be revealed much earlier. On both sides.
    And the sooner we found a mistake, the less its cost.

    How to implement?

    Implement this concept can be from two sides. After all, the interview - a mutual process.
    The company can send all the information in the letter. Prepare answers to the candidates' frequent questions about the process, provide good examples of questions. Additionally, HRs can, in a telephone conversation, explain the meaning and benefits to the candidate of this approach, if required.

    For his part, the candidate may, in correspondence / telephone conversation before the interview, suggest to try this mode. Explain the benefits to the company. You can do it right at the beginning of the interview: “let's try this, these are the advantages / disadvantages, I prepared, how do you like the idea?”. 


    A description of the concept would be incomplete without an awareness of weaknesses. When should you not use this approach?

    • You will be interviewing junior developers. Such an approach will most likely not work with them. Do they have enough experience to compile a correct list of questions?
    • The interview may last longer. Here you need to understand two things: time can and should be limited in any case, and the duration of this type of nominal is compensated by its quality
    • All parties need a little more preparation. There may be problems
    • Sometimes some people will talk, and you will need to work with others. Such an approach is strange in itself. But you also cannot shut your eyes to this reality.

    Is there anything else I didn’t mention? I invite in the comments to share your opinion.

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