Other side of the table



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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2007-07-28 00:01:54

So today (well, I guess yesterday, since it's past midnight) I got to help interview a co-op. It was my first time on the other side of the table, and it was a rather.. illuminating experience. It's not as easy to interview somebody as I thought it would be. It helps a lot to be prepared not just with generic interview questions, but questions tailored specifically for the individual interviewees to figure out exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Thinking about after it was over, I realized that if I had been the interviewee in that interview, I would probably not have wanted the job. In fact, I remember having a few interviews of that kind, and walking away quite annoyed for having wasted my time. I also now have a bunch more respect for those interviewers who manage to do a good job, specially if they can do it consistently with all candidates.

On the topic of hiring, I'm wondering how many big companies lose their edge or fail simply because they relax hiring standards. I think it's probably one of those factors that's really hard to pin down, but is probably the root cause for a lot of things. Once a company gets past a certain size, hiring decisions are more distributed. If even one of the people charged with making a hiring decision screws up and hires somebody sub-par, it's a really hard mistake to recover from.

Joel (who, incidentally, might be visiting Waterloo soon) has written about this at length, and I agree with a lot of what he says. If a company is growing, that mistake just ends up snowballing, since the newly hired person also gets to make hiring decisions, and will probably end up hiring people who are even worse.

Posted by http://maverichka.myopenid.com at 2007-07-28 12:01:25
I agree with Joel also, and as he mentions, this does echo the Microsoft interview structure fairly closely.

So was it a hire or no hire?
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Posted by stak at 2007-07-28 23:35:48
Yeah.. Joel did work for Microsoft for a while; presumably there's some influence there. Not sure which way, though.

I'm not going to answer that question in a public forum.
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