Job Interviews — Beyond the Tangibles
COVID has impacted our lives in many dimensions across personal and professional spaces. The ways of interpersonal communication have changed leaps and bounds, the majority have moved to a virtual first world for most of our day to day tasks until the status quo returns back to pre-COVID normalcy. With virtuality at the forefront, the notion of FOMO-”Fear of Missing Out” for better work opportunities than the current workplace has led to an extended version of Great Resignation, especially in the Software Industry. The flipside of Great Resignation is the plethora of opportunities for professionals, a change in both monetary as well as career trajectory.
Interviewing a candidate is like selecting a player for your franchise team-either through the drafts( Hiring a fresher), a Transfer deal ( Lateral Co-hire). While the callouts in a resume or an hour of job interview are good yardsticks for organisations to come up with an apt criteria for selection, many a times they fail to judge the intangibles needed for running the daily show at work. The mismatch can be attributed to varied reasons- team dynamics, output under pressure, running the business on legacy tech etc. Most of the interviews judge skill sets to a static playbook which often overlooks the productivity of an engineer when the variables of a dynamic workplaces are changed. So here is an attempt solving the jigsaw puzzle of hiring an ideal candidate for the job, beyond the regular mundane job interview techniques.
Fundamentals vs Perfection
Time-boxed interviews are designed to test how close humans are to getting an optimised solution (according to the interviewer). Re-reading the previous statement, it seems a lot of mind-reading, since there can always be multiple efficient routes to solve for a fundamental block of functionality. So instead of fixated on an optimised version of algorithm barely used in day to day operations, looking for programming/architecture attributes during the course of problem solving is a win-win for both sides. Perfecting a solution is a combination of familiarity of having seen the problem before and the candidate’s mental state on the given day which shouldn’t overweight his fundamental knowledge. Go Broad and then Go Narrow, that gives a fair chance to test the fundamental acumen without targeting a sea of unknown, which is tricky to even the most diligent techies.
Attitude vs Altitude
Altitude- Peak of a candidate’s current knowledge base; Attitude- Ability of a candidate to learn new things and make newer altitudes. Altitude is attributed to factors like exposure, opportunities in previous opportunities, hence it gives certain candidates a false advantage over others. Candidates with the right mindset are force multipliers, they help you scaling solutions even the Known’s fizzle out into a landscape of complete Unknowns. Hiring fast-learners over pure SMEs shields the team in case of a change of technology, business domain etc leading teams on newer projects and challenges.
Team vs Individual
While interviews are all about testing an individual’s skill-set, contributions and experiences, it is always important to gauge through how he/she credits his peers/mentors/juniors through examples. Corporations/Startups are multi-player team games, so not having someone who can fallback on team members for problem solving, feedback and success setups for long term bottlenecks resulting in Single Person Dependency. Individuals who can put their team interests over personal interests are goldmines who help the overall team scale to its potential.
Going by simple maths, the overall time spent in a job interview is less than even 1/100th of the time spent on the actual job. So if we don’t have a hiring framework which gives an equal weightage for intangibles in correlation with tangibles, we end up making an uninformed decision. The cost of hiring and training a wrong fit for the role is at least 3–6 months and in some cases even sets the team back to one year if the hire is for a leadership role.
Another viewpoint- While the Great Resignation offers opportunities for everyone, it’s also a notion that there is always a better opportunity outside, the costs of doing over again in most cases outweighs than fixing things in-house, so companies with strong Retention and Internal Job Switch policies will end up spending less cycles on hiring.
For feedback, please drop a message to amit[dot]894[at]gmail[dot]com or reach out to any of the links at https://about.me/amit_raj.