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Lesson #10: Interviewing is a skill you can (and should) learn
Hello and thanks in advance for reading lesson #10 of Lessons in Engineering Leadership! Thank you to the 1,654 of you who have subscribed so far! If you’re new here, Lessons in Engineering Leadership is a bi-weekly(-ish) newsletter on a variety of engineering leadership topics that can be read in under 5 minutes.
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I’m glad you’re here!
First off, some news!
I’m launching a course on Engineering Management! You can sign up for the waitlist here. I’m preparing the curriculum for this course now.
Interviewing is a skill you can (and should) learn
I’m in a fortunate position right now to be interviewing folks for about 7 open positions. (Check out our open roles!) This means I’m doing a lot of interviewing, as are the engineers who are a part of the various hiring panels. When you and your team are spending so much time interviewing, it can feel tiresome and monotonous after a while. But just as candidates are wanting to put themselves in their best light, you should be doing the same.
Interviewing is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. The more time you spend interviewing, the better you’ll be dome over time, and as an engineering leader, your ability to interview well will reflect on the quality of candidates you are able to close for your open positions.
Here are a few of my top tips for interviewing. I’ll be doing a deep dive on interviewing as my next newsletter for paid subscribers and providing some of the resources I use for interviewing and training my team to interview.
Limit the number of interviews you and your team do per day. I personally won’t do more than two a day. With an already busy schedule, I want to make sure every candidate gets the best experience possible, and I know once I hit that third interview my brain is likely fried, and it’s not fair to them. Hiring Manager Screens are also less intense than a technical interview, so consider keeping your technical interviews to one per engineer per day.
Train your team on how to interview! I can’t stress this one enough. Make sure your team knows what it is you’re looking for (we create what are essentially battle cards for each role that outline the what, the why, the interview rounds, and what each round is specifically looking for). These battle cards are also super helpful if you have several engineers interviewing on rotation so every candidate gets the same experience regardless of who is conducting the interview. Help your team understand the best questions to ask to get a clear answer, how to ask clarifying questions, and which questions they cannot ask. Review the feedback they leave not just for the candidate but for clarity and detail so you can make a proper hiring decision.
Listen actively and take notes. Jot down key points and specific examples provided by the candidate during the interview. This will help you remember important details when comparing candidates and making hiring decisions. You can also use your notes to outline areas where you need to dig deeper, or have your team dig deeper during their technical deep dives.
Trust your gut and be comfortable with saying no. During times like these, you’re going to have a very large candidate pool, and you can’t hire everyone you interview. Don’t ignore flags that come up in interviews. If something doesn’t sit right with you, there’s probably a reason for it. I’ve conducted countless interviews where candidates were either over-exaggerating their experience (unable to dig deeper when probed on a specific topic) or speaking poorly about others during their interview. As you conduct more interviews, you’ll be able to pick out the truthfulness of the responses you’re receiving.
What I’m reading
I’m still reading High Output Management and Too Big to Fail. I haven’t had much time to read due to *waves arms* but I’ll have plenty of time on a plane soon!
Check out the full book list for recommendations and an ever-growing reading list.
Note: Links to books in this section are affiliate links to help support the purchase of the rest of my books :)
What I’m working on
I’m flying out to Poland this week to begin the opening of our new hybrid office in Warsaw! If you’re in the Warsaw area and want to meet up, hit reply and let’s chat :)
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